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Vol.  I     Anderson,  P.  L.: 

WITH  THE  EAGLES  h.  $3.50 

Vol.  II  Anderson,  P.  L.: 

A  SLAVE  OF  CATILINE  h.  3.50 

Vol.  Ill  Anderson,  P.  L.: 


Vol.  IV  Anderson,  P.  L.: 

SWORDS  IN  THE  NORTH  h.  3.50 

Vol.  V  Anderson,  P.  L.: 


Vol.  VI  Church,  A.  J.: 


Vol.  VII  Davis,  W.  S.: 

A  DAY  IN  OLD  ROME  c.  h.  3.95 

Vol.  VIII  Wells,  R.  F.: 


Vol.  IX  Church,  A.  J.: 


Vol.  X  Lamprey,  L.: 


Vol.  XI  Wells,  R.  F.- 

WITH  CAESAR'S  LEGIONS  .  h.  3.50 

Vol.  XII  Donauer,  F.: 


Vol.  XIII  Judson,  H.  P.: 

CAESAR'S  ARMY  c.  h.  3.95 

Vol.  XIV  Lamprey,  L: 


Vol.  XV  Whitehead,  A.  C.: 


Vol.  XVI  Abbott,  Frank  F  : 



Vol.  XVII  Abbott,  Frank  F.: 


Vol.  XVIII  Petersson,  Torsten: 

CICERO.    A   BIOGRAPHY  c.  h.     7.50 


Vol    I     Davis,  W.  S.: 

A  DAY  IN  OLD  ATHENS  c.  h.  3.50 

Vol.  II  Mayer,  A.  L,  Jr.: 

OLYMPIAD  h.,  3.50 

Vol.  Ill  Smyth,  Herbert  W,: 

GREEK  MELIC  POETS  c.  4.95 

c.  -  college  h.  -  high  school  c.  h,  -  college  &  high,  school 


Restoration  according  to  Von  Falke. 






New  York 




63  Fourth  Avenue  New  York  3,  N.  Y. 

Fourth  Printing  1963 
Library  of  Congress  Card  #61-24993 

Printed  in  the  U.S.A. 

NEW  YORK  3,  N.Y. 


THIS  book  tries  to  describe  what  an  intelligent  person 
would  have  witnessed  in  Ancient  Rome  if  by  some  leger- 
demain he  had  been  translated  to  the  Second  Christian 
Century,  and  conducted  about  the  imperial  city  under 
competent  guidance.  Rare  and  untypical  happenings  have 
been  omitted,  and  sometimes  to  avoid  long  explanations 
probable  matters  have  been  stated  as  if  they  were  ascer- 
tained facts :  but  these  instances  it  is  hoped  are  so  few 
that  no  reader  can  be  led  into  serious  error. 

The  year  134  after  Christ  has  been  chosen  as  the  hypo- 
thetical time  of  this  visit,  not  from  any  special  virtue  in 
that  date,  but  because  Rome  was  then  architecturally 
nearly  completed,  the  Empire  seemed  in  its  most  prosper- 
ous state,  although  many  of  the  old  usages  and  traditions 
of  the  Republic  still  survived,  and  the  evil  days  of 
decadence  were  as  yet  hardly  visible  in  the  background. 
The  time  of  the  absence  of  Hadrian  from  his  capital  was 
selected  particularly,  in  order  that  interest  could  be  con- 
centrated upon  the  life  and  doings  of  the  great  city  itself, 
and  upon  its  vast  populace  of  slaves,  plebeians,  and  nobles, 
not  upon  the  splendid  despot  and  his  court,  matters  too 
often  the  center  for  attention  by  students  of  the  Roman 

To  acknowledge  all  the  modern  books  upon  which  the 
writer  has  drawn  heavily  would  be  to  present  a  list  of 
almost  all  the  important  handbooks  or  discussions  of 
Roman  life  and  antiquities.  It  is  proper  to  say,  however, 


iv  Preface 

that  such  secondary  sources  have  been  mainly  useful  so 
far  as  they  reenforced  a  fairly  exhaustive  study  of  the 
Latin  writers  themselves,  especially  of  Horace,,  Seneca, 
Petronius,  Juvenal,  Martial,  and,  last  but  nowise  least, 
of  Pliny  the  Younger,  Inevitably  this  volume  follows  the 
lines  of  its  companion  "A  Day  in  Old  Athens, "  published 
several  years  ago,  a  book  which  has  enjoyed  such  public 
favor  as  to  prove  the  usefulness  of  this  method  of  presen- 
tation ;  but  life  in  the  Roman  Imperial  Age  has  seemed  so 
much  more  complex  than  that  in  the  Athens  of  Demos- 
thenes, and  our  fund  of  information  is  so  much  greater, 
that  the  present  volume  is  perforce  considerably  longer 
than  its  companion.  The  "day"  devoted  to  Rome  will 
probably  seem  therefore  a  somewhat  lengthy  one. 

To  my  colleague  and  friend  Dr,  Richard  C.  Cram,  Pro- 
fessor of  Latin  in  the  University  of  Minnesota,  I  am  deeply 
grateful  for  a  careful  reading  of  the  manuscript  and  for 
many  helpful  and  incisive  suggestions ;  and  for  a  careful 
checking  over  of  every  feature  of  the  work  I  must  once 
again  gladly  acknowledge  the  gracious  and  untiring  serv- 
ices of  my  wife. 

The  illustrations,  which,  it  is  hoped,  add  considerably 
to  the  interest  of  the  book,  have  been  collected  from  many 
sources.  Many  of  the  highly  informational  "resto- 
rations" included  are  from  the  monumental  work  of  Jakob 
von  Falke,  Hellas  und  Rom,  the  English  version  whereof 
has  long  ceased  to  be  available  to  American  readers. 

W.  S.  D. 





Chapter  I.    The  General  Aspect  of  the  City 


1.  The  Prosperity  of  Rome  in  the  Reign  of  Hadrian 

(A.D.  117-138) 1 

2.  Increasing  Glory  of  the  Imperial  City      ....  2 

3.  Population  and  Crowded  Condition  of  Rome   ...  3 

4.  The  Country  around  Rome 5 

5.  The  Tiber  and  Its  Valley 6 

6.  A  View  over  Rome  from  the  Campus  Martius  ...  7 

7.  The  Seven  Hills  of  Rome 9 

8.  Building  Materials  Used  in  Rome 10 

9.  The  Great  Use  of  Concrete 11 

10.  Greek  Architectural  Forms  Plus  the  Arch  and  Vault       .  12 

Chapter  H    Streets  and  Street  Life 

11.  The   Regions   of   Rome:    Fashionable   and   Plebeian 

Quarters 15 

12.  A  Typical  Short  Street,  "Mercury  Street"       ...  16 

13.  The  House  and  Shop  Fronts 18 

14.  Street  Shrines  and  Fountains 20 

15.  Typical  Street  Crowds 21 

16.  Frequent  Use  of  Greek  in  Rome 22 

17.  Clamor  and  Thronging  in  the  Streets       ....  23 

18.  The  Processions  Attending  Great  Nobles  ....  24 

19.  A  Great  Lady  Traveling 25 

20.  Public  Salutations :  the  Kissing  Habit     ....  26 

21.  The  Swarms  of  Idlers  and  Parasites 27 

22.  Public  Placards  and  Notices 28 

23.  Wall  Scribblings 30 

24.  The  Streets  Dark  and  Dangerous  at  Night      ...  32 

25.  Discomforts  of  Life  in  Rome 33 


vi  Contents 

Chapter  HI.     The  Homes  of  the  Lowly  and  of  the 


26.  The  Great  Insulx  —  Tenement  Blocks      ....  34 

27.  A  Typical  Insula 35 

28.  The  Flats  in  an  Insula 36 

29.  The  Cheap  Attic  Tenements  and  Their  Poor  Occupants   .  37 

30.  A  Senatorial  "Mansion"  (Domus) 39 

31.  The  Plan  of  a  Large  Residence 40 

32.  Entrance  to  the  Residence 42 

33.  The  Atrium  and  the  View  across  It 42 

34.  The  Rooms  in  the  Rear  and  the  Peristylium     ...  44 

35.  The  Dining  Room  (Triclinium)  and  the  Chapel        .         .  45 

36.  The  Garden  and  the  Slaves'  Quarters        ....  47 

37.  The  Floors  and  Windows 49 

38.  Frescos,  Beautiful  and  Innumerable 50 

39.  The  Profusion  of  Statues  and  Art  Objects         .         .         .51 

40.  Family  Portrait  Busts 52 

41.  Death  Masks  (Imagines) 54 

42.  Couches,  Their  General  Use 54 

43.  Elegant  Chairs  and  Costly  Tables 55 

44.  Chests,  Cabinets,  Water  Clocks,  and  Curios     ...  57 

45.  Spurious  Antiques 58 

46.  Pet  Animals 58 

Chapter  IV.     Roman  Women  and  Roman  Marriages 

47.  Honorable  Status  of  Roman  Women         ....  60 

48.  Men  Reluctant  to  Marry 61 

49.  Rights  and  Privileges  of  Married  Women          ...  61 

50.  Selection  of  Husbands  for  Young  Girls      ....  63 

51.  A  Marriage  Treaty  among  Noble-Folk      ....  64 

52.  A  Betrothal  in  Wealthy  Circles 65 

53.  Adjusting  the  Dowry 66 

54.  Dressing  the  Bride 66 

55.  The  Marriage  Ceremonies .67 

56.  The  Wedding  Procession 69 

57.  At  the  Bridegroom's  House 70 

58.  Honors  and  Liberties  of  a  Matron 71 

59.  Unhappy  Marriages  and  Frivolous  Women       ...  72 

60.  Divorces,  Easy  and  Frequent 74 

Contents  vii 


61.  Celibacy  Common :  Old  Families  Dying  Out   ...  75 

62.  Nobler  Types  of  Women 75 

63.  Famous  and  Devoted  Wives 76 

64.  The  Story  of  Turia 78 

Chapter  V.     Costume  and  Personal  Adornment 

65.  The  Type  of  Roman  Garments 80 

66.  The  Toga,  the  National  Latin  Garment    ....  81 

67.  Varieties  of  Togas 83 

68.  Draping  the  Toga 83 

69.  The  Tunica 84 

70.  Capes,  Cloaks,  and  Gala  Garments 85 

71.  Garments  of  Women :  the  Stola  and  the  Palla  ...  86 

72.  Materials  for  Garments.    Wool  and  Silk  ....  88 

73.  Styles  of  Arranging  Garments.    Fullers  and  Cleaners       .  89 

74.  Barbers'  Shops.    The  Revived  Wearing  of  Beards    .        .  90 

75.  Fashions  in  Women's  Hairdressing.    Hair  Ornaments       .  93 

76.  Elaborate  Toilets 94 

77.  Sandals  and  Shoes 95 

78.  The  Mania  for  Jewels  and  Rings 96 

79.  Pearls  in  Enormous  Favor 97 

80.  Perfumes:  Their  Constant  Use 98 

Chapter  VI.    Food  and  Drink.    How  the  Day  is 
Spent.     The  Dinner 

81.  Romans    Fond   of    the    Table.    Gourmandizing.    The 

Famous  Apicius 100 

82.  Vitellius,  the  Imperial  Glutton 102 

83.  Simple  Diet  of  the  Early  Romans 102 

84.  Bread  and  Vegetables 103 

85.  Fruits,  Olives,  Grapes,  and  Spices 104 

86.  Meat  and  Poultry 105 

87.  Fish  in  Great  Demand 106 

88.  Olive  OH  and  Wine :  Their  Universal  Use         .        .        .107 

89.  Vintages  and  Varieties  of  Wine 108 

90.  Kitchens  and  the  Niceties  of  Cookery       ....  109 

91.  A  Roman  Gentleman's  Morning:  Breakfast  (jentaculwri) 

and  the  Visit  to  the  Forum 110 

92.  The  Afternoon  and   Dinner-Time.    Importance  of  the 

Dinner  (cena) Ill 

viii  Contents 

93.  Dinner  Hunters  and  Parasites  (" Shadows")   .        .        .112 

94.  The  Standard  Dinner  Party  —  Nine  Guests    .        .        .113 

95.  Preparing  the  Dinner  and  Mustering  the  Guests     .        .114 

96.  Arrangement  of  the  Couches  :  Placing  the  Guests  .        .115 

97.  Serving  the  Dinner 116 

98.  The  Drinking  Bout  (Comissatio)  after  the  Dinner    .        .118 

99.  Distribution  of  Garlands  and  Perfumes.    Social  Con- 

versation       119 

100.  Elaborate     and     Vulgar     Banquets.    Simple     Home 

Dinners 120 

Chapter  VII.     The  Social  Orders:  The  Slaves 

101.  Enormous    Alien    Population    in   Rome.    The    "Gra- 

cules" 122 

102.  Strict  Divisions  of  Society.    The  Regime  of  Status          .  123 

103.  Vast  Number  of  Slaves.    Universality  of  Slavery   .        .  124 

104.  Power  of  Master  over  Slaves 125 

105.  The  City  Slaves  and  the  Country  Slaves         .        .        .  125 

106.  Purchasing  a  Slave  Boy 126 

107.  Traffic  in  the  Slave  Pens 127 

108.  Sale  of  Slaves 128 

109.  Size  of  Slave  Households  (Families).    Slave  Workmen    .  129 

110.  Division  of  Duties  and  Organization  of  Slave  House- 

holds   131 

111.  Discipline  in  a  Well-Ordered  Mansion.    Long  Hours  of 

Idleness 132 

112.  Inevitable    Degradation    Caused    by    Slavery.    Evil 

Effect  upon  Masters 133 

113.  Punishment  of  Slaves 135 

114.  Branding  of  Slaves.    Ergastula  —  Slave  Prisons      .        .  136 

115.  Death  Penalties  for  Slaves.    Pursuit  of  Runaways          .  136 

Chapter  VIII.    The  Social  Orders :  Freedmen,  Provincials, 
Plebeians,  and  Nobles 

116.  Manumission  of  Slaves  Very  Common    ....     139 

117.  The  Ceremony  of  Manumission 140 

118.  The    Status    of    Freedmen.    Their    Great    Success    in 

Business 140 

Contents  ix 


119.  Humble  Types  of  Freedmen 141 

120.  Wealth  and  Power  of  Successful  Freedmen      .        .        .142 

121.  Importance  of  Freedmen  in  a  Roman  Family          .        .  143 

122.  The  Status  of  Provincials.    The  Case  of  Jesus        .        .  143 

123.  Great  Alien  Colonies  in  Rome 145 

124.  The  Roman  Plebeians,  the  "Mob"  (Vulgus)  .        .        .  145 

125.  The   Desirability    of   Roman   Citizenship.    The   Case 

of  St.  Paul 146 

126.  Clientage:  Its  Oldest  Form 147 

127.  The   New   Parasitical    Clientage:    the    Morning   Sal- 

utation           148 

128.  The  Dole  to  Clients  (the  Sportula) 150 

129.  Attendance  by  Clients  in  Public.    Insults  They  Must 

Undergo 151 

130.  The    Dectirions:     the    Notables    of    the     Chartered 

Cities 152 

131.  The  Equites :  the  Nobles  of  the  Second  Class         .        .  153 

132.  Qualifications  and  Honors  of  the  Equites        .        .        .  154 

133.  Review  of  the  Equites.     Pretenders  to  the  Rank    .        .156 

134.  The  Senatorial  Order.    The  First-Class  Nobility    .        .  156 

135.  Social  Glories  of  Senators 157 

136.  The  Senatorial  Aristocracy  Greater  than  the  Senate        .  158 

137.  Insignia,  Qualifications,  and  Titles  of  Senators        .        .  158 

Chapter  IX.    Physicians  and  Funerals 

138.  Scanty  Qualifications  and  Training  of  Doctors        .        .  160 

139.  Superior  Class  of  Physicians 161 

140.  A  Fashionable  Doctor 161 

141.  Medical  Books  and  Famous  Remedies    ....  163 

142.  Absurd  Medicines.    Theriac 164 

143.  Fear  of  Poisoning.    Popularity  of  Antidotes  .        ,        .  165 

144.  Medical  Students,  "Disciples,"  Beauty  Specialists  .        .  166 

145.  Cheap  Doctors :  No  Hospitals 167 

146.  Suicide  as  Escape  from  Hopeless  Disease        .        .        .  168 

147.  Execution  of  Wills.     Numerous  Legacies  Customary      .  169 

148.  Regular  Incomes  from  Legacies.    Professional  Legacy 

Hunters 171 

149.  Public  Bequests 172 

150.  Great    Funerals    Very    Fashionable.    Desire    to    Be 

Remembered  after  Death 172 



151.  Preliminaries  to  a  Funeral 173 

152.  The    Funeral    Procession.    The    Display    of    Masked 

"Ancestors" 174 

153.  The  Exhibits  in  the  Procession.    The  Retinue  around 

the  Bier 175 

154.  The  Funeral  Oration  in  the  Forum          ....  176 

155.  Family  Tombs.     The  Columbarium  and  the  Garden        .  177 

156.  The  Funeral  Pyre  and  Its  Ceremonies     .        .        .         .180 

157.  Funeral  Monuments.    Memorial  Feasts  to  the  Dead      .  182 

158.  Funerals  of  the  Poor.     "Funeral  Societies"    .        .        .  182 

Chapter  X.     Children  and  Schooling 

159.  Theoretical    Rights    of    Father    over    Children.    The 

Patria  Potestas 184 

160.  Ceremonies  after  Birth  of  a  Child.     The  Bulla        .        .  185 

161.  The  Roman  Name  :  Its  Intricacy            ....  186 

162.  Irregular    and    Lengthy    Names    under    the    Empire. 

Names  of  Slaves 187 

163.  Names  of  Women.     Confusion  of  Roman  Names    .        .  188 

164.  Care  of  Parents  in  Educating  Children    ....  189 

165.  Toys  and  Pets 190 

166.  The  Learning  of  Greek  by  Roman  Children    .        .        .191 

167.  Selection  of  a  School 192 

168.  Extent  of  Literacy  in  Rome.    Education  of  Girls  .        .  193 

169.  Schools  for  the  Lower  Classes 193 

170.  Scourging,    Clamors,    and    Other    Abuses    of    Cheap 

Schools 195 

171.  A  Superior  Type  of  School 196 

172.  Methods  of  Teaching .  197 

173.  Training  in  Higher  Arithmetic 199 

174.  The  Grammarians'  High  Schools 199 

175.  Oratory  Very  Fashionable 200 

176.  Professional  Rhetoricians 201 

177.  Methods  in  Rhetoric  Schools :  Mock  Trials    .        .        .201 

178.  Enormous  Popularity  of  Rhetoric  Studies       .        ,        .  203 

179.  Philosophical  Studies :  Delight  in  Moralizing .        .        .  204 

180.  Children's  Games.     "Morra"  and  Dice  .        .        .        .204 

181.  Board  Games  of  Skill:    "Robbers"  (Latruneuli)     .        .  205 

182.  Out-Door  Games.    Ball  Games,  Trignon        .  .206 

Contents  xi 

Chapter  XI.     Books  and  Libraries 


183.  Letters  and  Writing  Tablets 207 

184.  Personal  Correspondence  and  Secretaries         .        .        .208 

185.  Books  Very  Common  :  Papyrus  and  the  Papyrus  Trade  209 

186.  Size  and  Format  of  Books 210 

187.  Mounting  and  Rolling  of  Books 211 

188.  Copying  Books:    the  Publishing  Business.    Horace's 

and  Martial's  Publishers 212 

189.  Passion  for  Literary  "Fame" 214 

190.  Zeal  for  Poetry :  Multiplication  of  Verses       .        .        .216 

191.  Size  of  Libraries 217 

192.  A  Private  Library 218 

193.  The  Great  Public  Libraries  of  Rome       .        .        .        .219 

Chapter  XII.     Economic  Life  of  Rome :    I.  Banking, 
Shops,  and  Inns 

194.  Passion  for  Gain  in  Rome 220 

195.  Life  in  Rome  Expensive.     Premiums  upon  Extravagance 

and  Pretence 221 

196.  Rome  a  City  of  Investors  and  Buyers  of  Luxuries  .        .  222 

197.  Multiplicity  of  Shops.     The  Great  Shopping  Districts    .  223 

198.  Arrangement  of  Shops.     Streets  Blocked  by  Hucksters  .  224 

199.  Barbers'  Shops  and  Auction  Sales 225 

200.  Superior  Retail  Stores 226 

201.  Numerous  Banks  and  Bankers 227 

202.  A  Great  Banker  and  His  Business 228 

203.  Trust  Business :  Savings  Banks 229 

204.  Places  of  Safe  Deposit :  The  Temple  of  Vesta         .        .  230 

205.  Inns  :  Usually  Mean  and  Sordid 231 

206.  Reckonings  and  Guests  at  a  Cheap  Inn  ....  233 

207.  Noble  Frequenters  of  Taverns 234 

208.  Respectable  Eating-Houses 235 

209.  Thermopolia  —"Hot  Drink  Establishments"          .        .  236 

Chapter  XIII.     Economic  Life  of  Rome :    n.  The 

Industrial    Quarters.     The    Grain    Trade.     Ostia. 

The  Trade  Guilds 

210.  Industrial  Quarters  by  the  Tiber 238 

211.  Conditions  of  Industrial  Labor 238 

xii  Contents 


212.  Great  Trade  through  Ostia  and  the  Campanian  Ports     .  239 

213.  The  Emporium  and  Its  Wharves :  The  Tiber  Barges       .  240 

214.  The  Marble  and  Grain  Trades 241 

215.  The  Public  Grain  Doles 242 

216.  Distribution  of   Free   Bread:    Extraordinary   Bonuses 

(Congiaria  and  Donativa) 244 

217.  The  Trade  in  Sculptures  and  Portrait  Statues         .        .  246 

218.  The  Tiber  Trip  to  Ostia :  The  Merchant  Shipping .        .  247 

219.  Imperial  Naval  Vessels 248 

220.  The  Harbor  Town  of  Ostia 249 

221.  The  Roman  Guilds  (Collegia) 249 

222.  Very  Ancient  Guilds.    The  Flute-Blowers       .        .        .250 

223.  Importance  of  the  Guilds 251 

224.  Multitude  of  Beggars 252 

Chapter  XIV,     The  Fora,  Their  Life  and  Buildings. 
The  Daily  Journal 

225.  The  Fora,  the  Centers  of  Roman  Life      ....  254 

226.  Incessant    Crowds    at    the    Forum.    The    Centers    of 

Gossip 256 

227.  Grandiose  Architecture :    Vast  Quantities  of  Ornaments 

and  Statues 258 

228.  Use  of  Color  on  Sculptures  and  Architecture  .        .        .  259 

229.  Entering  the  Series  of  Fora :  the  Temple  of  Venus  and 

Rome 260 

230.  The  Arch  of  Titus :  Continuation  of  the  Sacred  Way     .  262 

231.  House  and  Temple  of  Vesta;  the  Regia:   the  Temple 

of  the  Divine  Julius 265 

232.  The  Old  Forum  (Forum  Romanum)         ....  265 

233.  The  Forum  Area :  the  Posting  of  Public  Notices    .        .  268 

234.  Western  End  of  Forum:  Rostra:   the.   Golden  Mile- 

stone :  the  Tullianum  Prison 269 

235.  The  Basilica  ^Emilia :  the  Temple  of  Janus :  the  Senate 

House  (Curia) 271 

236.  The  Basilica  Julia,  the  Greatest  Court  House  in  Rome ; 

the  Locus  Curtius 272 

237.  The  New  Fora  of  the  Emperors :  the  Temple  of  Peace  .  275 

238.  The  Fora  of  Julius,  Augustus,  and  Nerva        .        .        .  276 

239.  The  Forum,  Column,  and  Libraries  of  Trajan         .        .  278 

Contents  xiii 


240.  The    Park    System    of    the    Campus    Martius:     the 

Pantheon 280 

241.  The  Daily   Gazette   (Acta  Diurna).    How   Rome  Gets 

Its  News 282 

242.  Contents  of  the  Acta  Diurna 283 

243.  Miscellaneous  Entries  and  Gossip  in  the  "Gazette"        .    284 

Chapter  XV.    The  Palatine  and  the  Palace  of  the 

Caesars.    The  Government  Offices,  and  the  Police 

and  City  Government  of  Rome 

244.  History  of  the  Palatine  :  Its  Purchase  by  Augustus  286 

245.  Extension  of  the  Imperial  Buildings :  Central  Position  of 

the  Palatine 287 

246.  Commanding  View  from  the  Palatine  Hill       .        .         .  288 

247.  Magnificence  of  the  Palatine  Structures  ....  288 

248.  The  More  Famous  Buildings  on  the  Palatine :  Enormous 

Display  of  Art  Objects 290 

249.  The  Triclinium  and  Throne  Room  of  Domitian       .        .  291 

250.  Swarms  of  Civil  Officials  Always  on  the  Palatine    .        .  293 

251.  The  Emperor  Center  of  High  Social  Life         .        .        .294 

252.  Friends  of  Caesar  (Amid  C&saris) 295 

253.  The  Imperial  Audiences 296 

254.  Social  Ruin  through  Imperial  Disfavor   ....  296 

255.  Enormous  Value  of  Imperial  Favor         ....  298 

256.  City  Government  of  Rome :  the  "CityPrsefect"  (Prcsfec- 

tus  Urbi) 299 

257.  The    Municipal    Superintendents    and    Commissioners 

(Curatores) 301 

258.  Excellent  Water  Supply  of  Rome 301 

259.  The  Great  Aqueducts 303 

260.  The  Police  System  Instituted  by  Augustus      .        .        .304 

261.  The    Police-Firemen    of    the    Watch    (Vigttes).    The 

Proefectus  Vigilum 304 

Chapter  XVI.    The  Praetorian  Camp.    The  Imperial 
War  Machine 

262.  The  Army  the  Real  Master  of  the  Roman  Empire  .        .    307 

263.  Army  Held  under  Stiff  Discipline  and  Concentrated 

on  Frontiers 308 

xiv  Contents 


264.  The  Praetorian  Guard  of  the  Emperors    .        .        .        .309 

265.  The  Praetorian  Praefect  and  the  Praetorian  Camp    .        .311 

266.  Organization  and  Discipline  of  the  Praetorians        .        .  312 

267.  The  City  Cohorts  (Cohartes  Urbance)        .        .         .        .313 

268.  A    Private    in    the    Legions.    The    Legionary    Organ- 

ization           314 

269.  Training    of    the    Legionaries :    the    Pttum  and    the 

Gladius 316 

270.  Defensive  Weapons 318 

271.  Rewards  and  Punishment?  for  Soldiers    .        .        .        .319 

272.  Pay   and   Rations   in    the    Army:    Soldiers'    Savings 

Banks 320 

273.  The  Training  of  Soldiers :  Non-Military  Labors      .        .  321 

274.  Petty  Officers  in  the  Legions 322 

275.  The  Centurions:    Their    Importance    and    Order    of 

Promotion 323 

276.  The  Primipilus :  the  Great  Eagle  of  the  Legion      .        .  325 

277.  Locations  and  Names  of  Legions 326 

278.  The  Auxiliary  Cohorts :  the  Second  Grand  Division  of  the 

Army           . 327 

279.  The  Praefect  of  the  Camps   and  the  Legate  of  the 

Legion 328 

280.  Care    for    Veterans :     Retiring    Bonuses    and    Land 

Grants 329 

281.  Barrier  Fortresses ;  System  of  Encampments ;  Flexible 

Battle  Tactics ;  Siege  Warfare 330 

282.  Limited    Size    of    the    Imperial    Army :     Its    Great 

Efficiency 331 

Chapter  XVII.    The  Senate:   A  Session  and  a 

283.  Apparent  Authority  and  Importance  of  the  Senate         .  334 

284.  Actual  Weakness  of  the  Senate 335 

285.  Amount  of  Power  Left  to  the  Senate       ....  336 

286.  Organization  and  Procedure  of  the  Senate       .        .        .  337 

287.  The  Curia  (Senate   House)   and  Its  Arrangement   of 

Benches 338 

288.  The  Gathering  of  the  Senators 339 

289.  Opening  the  Session :  Taking  the  Auspices     .        .        .340 

Contents  xv 

290.  Presentation  of  Routine  Business:    Taking  a  Formal 

Vote  341 

291.  Presenting  an  Impeachment  at  a  Senate  Trial         .        .    342 

292.  The  Water  Clocks ;  Method  of  a  Prosecutor ;  Applause 

in  the  Senate        .  344 

293.  Speech  for  the  Defendant :    Methods  of  a  Professional 

Advocate 345 

294.  Concluding  Speeches;    Interrupting  Shouts;    Personal 

Invectives 347 

295.  Taking  the  Opinion  of  the  Senate 348 

296.  An  Uproar  in  the  Senate :  An  "  Altercation "  .        .        .    350 

297.  Taking  a  Vote  of  the  Senate.    A  Sentence  of  Ban- 

ishment         351 

Chapter  XVIII.     The  Courts  and  the  Orators.    The 

Great  Baths.     The   Public   Parks  and  Environs   of 


298.  Roman  Court  Procedure  Highly  Scientific       .        .        .     353 

299.  The  Great  Tribunals  in  the  Basilicas       .        .        .        .354 

300.  Great  Stress  on  Advocacy 355 

301.  Cheap  Pettifogging  Lawyers 356 

302.  Character  Witnesses ;   Torture  of  Slave  Witnesses  .        .  357 

303.  Written  Evidence ;   High  Development  of  the  Advocate's 

Art  357 

304.  Popularity  and  Necessity  of  the  Baths    .        .        .        .358 

305.  Luxurious  Private  Baths 359 

306.  Government  and  Privately  Owned  Public  Baths :  Both 

Very  Popular 360 

307.  The  Great  Baths  of  Trajan:  Baths,  Club-House,  and 

Cafe*  361 

308.  Heterogeneous  Crowds  in  the  Great  Baths     .        .        .  362 

309.  Entering  the  Thermae 363 

310.  Interior  of  the  Baths :  the  Cold  Room  (Frigidarium)      .  364 

311.  The  Great  Swimming  Pool  and  the  Tepidarium      .        .  365 

312.  The  Hot  Baths  (Ccddaria) :  Their  Sensuous  Luxury        .  366 

313.  Restaurants,  Small  Shops,  and  Sports  in  or  around  the 

Baths 367 

314.  The  Great  Porticoes  along  the  Campus  Martius.    The 

Park  System  towards  the  Tiber 368 

xvi  Contents 


315.  Public  Buildings  upon  the  Campus  Martius    .         .        .     369 

316.  The  Tombs  of  Hadrian  and  Augustus     ....    370 

Chapter  XIX.    The  Public  Games:    the  Theater, 
the  Circus,  and  the  Amphitheater 

317.  Roman  Festivals :  Their  Great  Number          .        .        .374 

318.  Passion  for  Public  Spectacles :  Mania  for  Gambling       .  375 

319.  Expenses  of  Public  Spectacles  to  Great  Officials      .        .  376 

320.  Indescribable  Popularity  of  the  Games    ....  377 

321.  The  Theater  Less  Popular  than  the  Circus  or  Amphi- 

theater           378 

322.  The  Mimes :  Character  Plays 380 

323.  The  Pantomimes :  Their  Real  Art 381 

324.  Extreme  Popularity  of  the  Circus 382 

325.  Popular    Charioteers     (Aurigce)  :    the    Great     Racing 

Factions 383 

326.  The  Circus  Maximus 384 

327.  The  Race-Track  :  Procession  before  the  Races        .        .  384 

328.  Beginning  a  Race  in  the  Circus 386 

329.  Perils  of  the  Races ;  Proclaiming  the  Victors  .        .        .  386 

330.  Gladiatorial  Contests   Even   More    Popular   than  the 

Circus 389 

331.  Gladiator  Fights  at  Funerals 390 

332.  Gladiator   "Schools"    (Ludi) :    Inmates  Usually  Crim- 

inals      390 

333.  Severe    Training    of    Gladiators;     Their    Ephemeral 

Glory 392 

334.  Normal  Arrangements  for  an  Arena  Contest  .        .        .  393 

335.  The  Flavian  Amphitheater  (Later  "Colosseum")    .        .  394 

336.  Exterior  and  Ticket  Entrances  to  the  Flavian  Amphi- 

theater          396 

337.  Interior  Arrangements  of  the  Flavian      ....  396 

338.  Procession  of  Gladiators 397 

339.  Throwing   a   Criminal    to    the    Beasts.    The   Animal 

Hunt           398 

340.  Interval    in    the    Contests:    Scattering    of    Lottery 

Tickets .  399 

341.  Beginning  the  Regular  Gladiatorial  Combats  .        .        .  401 

Contents  xvii 


342.  Mounted  Combats:    the  Signals  for  Ruthlessness  and 

Mercy .    403 

343.  Combats    between     Netters    (Retiarii)     and     Heavy- 

Armed  Warriors  ("Thracians")   .....    404 

344.  End  of  the  Combats  :  Rewarding  the  Victors          .        .    405 

Chapter  XX.    The  Roman  Religion:    the  Priest- 
hoods, the  Vestal  Virgins 

345.  Religious  Symbols  Everywhere  in  Rome          .        .        .    407 

346.  Epicureanism    and    Agnosticism    among    the    Upper 

Classes 407 

347.  Stoicism :  Revival  of  Religion  under  the  Empire    •        •    408 

348.  Foreign  Cults  Intruded  upon  the  "Religion  of  Numa".     410 

349.  Superstitious  Piety  of  the  City  Plebeians        .        .        .411 

350.  Roman    Religion    Originally    Developed    by    Italian 

Farmers       . 411 

351.  Native    Italian    Gods:     Janus,    Saturn,    Flora,    The 

Lares  and  Penates 413 

352.  Personified  Virtues  as  Gods :  Cold  and  Legalistic  Char- 

acter of  the  Roman  Religion        .....  414 

353.  Priestly  Offices :  Little  Sacrosanct  about  Them      .        •  416 

354.  ThePontifices 417 

355.  The  Augurs .  418 

356.  The  Flamens 420 

357.  The  ScMi  ("  Holy  Leapers")    ......  421 

358.  The  Feticdes  ("Sacred  Heralds") :  Ceremony  of  Declar- 

ing War        422 

359.  The  Arval  Brethren  (Fratres  Armies)      .        .        •        .423 

360.  Rustic    Ceremonies;     Soothsaying,   Astrologers,     and 

Witches 424 

361.  A  Private  Sacrifice 425 

362.  Ceremony  at  the  Temple         ......  426 

363.  A  Formal  Prayer :  the  Actual  Sacrifice          .        •        .  428 

364.  The  Vestal  Virgins :  Their  Sanctity  and  Importance      .  429 

365.  The  Temple  of  Vesta  and  the  House  of  the  Vestals         .  431 

366.  Appointment  of  Vestals •  432 

367.  Duties  of  the  Vestals :  the  Maxima        ....  433 

368.  Punishments  of  Erring  Vestals        .....  434 

369.  Remarkable  Honors  Granted  the  Vestals        .        .        .435 

xviii  Contents 

Chapter  XXI.    The  Foreign  Cults:    Cybele,  Isis, 
Mithras.     The  Christians  in  Pagan  Eyes 


370.  Saturnalia :    the  Exchange  of  Presents  on  New  Year's 

Day  437 

371.  Multiplication  of  Oriental  Cults 437 

372.  The  Cult  of  the  Deified  Emperors 439 

373.  The  "Divine  Augustus"  and  His  Successors    .        .        .    439 

374.  The  Cult  of  Cybele,  the  "Great  Mother"        .  .441 

375.  Cult  of  Isis  and  Associated  Egyptian  Gods     .        .        .    442 

376.  Ceremonies  at  an  Isis  Temple 443 

377.  Cult  of  Serapis  and  of  Other  Oriental  Gods     .        .        .445 

378.  The  Cult  of  Mithras :  Its  Relative  Nobility    .        .        .445 

379.  The  Taurobolium  ("  Bath  in  Bull's  Blood75)    .  .447 

380.  The  Christians :  Pagan  Account  of  Their  Origin     .        .    449 

381.  The  Persecution  of  Christians  :  Their  "Insane  Obsti- 

nacy"   450 

382.  Current  Charges  against  the  Christians  .        .        .        .451 

Chapter  XXH    A  Roman  Villa.    The  Love  of  the 

383.  Appreciation  of  Country  Life  by  the  Romans .        .        .    453 

384.  Praises  of  the  Country  Towns  and  Villas        .        .        .    453 

385.  Comfortable    Modes    of    Travel :     Luxurious    Litters 

and  Carriages       .  454 

386.  Multiplication  of  Villas:    Seashore  Estates  at  Baise, 

etc.  456 

387.  Villas  in  the  Mountains ;  Small  Farms  near  Rome .        .  457 

388.  Great  Estates  in  the  Hills :  Pliny's  Tuscan  Villa    .        .  458 

389.  Charming  Location  of  Pliny's  Villa         ....  460 

390.  Terraces  of  the  Villa:  the  Porticoes:  Summer-Houses 

and  Bedrooms 462 

391.  The  Baths :  the  Rear  Apartments :  the  Riding  Course  464 

392.  The  Fountains  and  Luxurious  Pavilions  in  the  Gardens  .  465 

393.  Life  of  Sensuous  Luxury  at  Such  a  Villa.    Contrast  in 

Human  Conditions  under  the  Roman,  Regime     .        .    466 

Chapter  XXTLI.    The  Return  of  the  Emperor 

394.  Character  of  Hadrian :  Prosperity  and  Good  Government 

of  His  Reign 468 

Contents  xix 


395.  Return  of  Hadrian  to  Italy 469 

396.  Imperial  Procession  Entering  Rome        ....  470 

397.  Hailing  the  Emperor 472 

398.  The  Donatives,  F6tes,  and  Games 472 

399.  A  Christian  Gathering 473 

INDEX 475 



Interior  of  Great  Public  Baths  in  Imperial  Rome     .        Frontispiece 

Map  of  Rome  in  the  Days  of  Hadrian 6 

Capitoline  Hill  and  Temples  as  seen  from  Palatine  ...  8 

Typical  Temple  Front 12 

Arch  of  Constantine 13 

Street  in  Pompeii     . 16 

Stepping  Stones  across  a  Side  Street 17 

Street  Scene  before  a  Cook-Shop 19 

Shrine  at  the  Crossways 20 

Monument  of  a  Wine  Seller 28 

Tenants  Paying  Rent  to  a  Landlord's  Agent    ....  38 

Atrium  of  House  in  Pompeii             41 

Plan  of  a  Roman  Mansion 43 

Interior  of  a  Roman  Mansion 44 

Scene  in  a  Peristylium 45 

Roman  Type  of  House  at  Pompeii 46 

Corner  in  a  Garden  in  Rear  of  a  Roman  House       ...  48 

Portrait  Bust  —  Pompey  the  Great 52 

Typical  Roman  Portrait  —  Marc  Antony        ....  53 

Roman  Lamps 55 

Altar  with  Design  of  a  Curule  Chair 56 

A  Roman  Matron 62 

Wedded  Pair  with  Camittus 76 

Seated  Noblewoman 77 

Romans  wearing  the  Toga 81 

A  Roman  Matron :  showing  the  stola  and  patta       ...  87 

Scene  before  a  Barber's  Shop   . 91 

Roman  Female  Heads 92 

Sandals 95 

Roman  Jewelry  and  Ornaments 96 

Roman  Banquet  Scene 101 

Grist  Mill  turned  by  Horse 103 

Nine  Gueste  in  a  Triclinium 116 


xxii  Illustrations 


Roman  Serving  Forks 117 

Drinking  Cup 118 

Slaves  working  in  a  Bakery      .        .        .         .        .         .        .131 

Clients  gathering  in  the  Rain,  before  their  Patron's  Door        .  149 
Invalid  with  Attendants  .        .        .        •         •         .         .        .162 

Scene  along  the  Appian  Way 178 

Pyramid  —  Tomb  of  Gaius  Cestius 179 

View  along  the  Appian  Way  showing  Funeral  Monuments      .  180 
Street  of  the  Tombs  at  Pompeii       .              •  .        .        .        .181 

Boy  Studying 194 

School  Discipline 196 

Grammarian  instructing  Two  Upper  Pupils     ....  200 

Wax  Tablet  with  Stilus  Attached 207 

Writing  Tablets  and  Stilus 208 

Book  Cupboard 209 

Book  Container 210 

Double  Inkstand 210 

Pen  and  Scroll 211 

Book  Scroll 212 

Old  Forum,  looking  towards  Northern  Side :  restoration         .  216 

Tradesmen's  Scales  and  Balances 224 

Monument  of  a  Hostler   ........  231 

Gateway  at  Pompeii :  present  state         .....  232 

Cheap  Grocery  and  Cook-Shop        ......  235 

River  Boat  Loaded  with  Hogsheads  of  Wine   ....  241 

Distributing  Bread 243 

Oven  and  Grist  Mill  in  a  Bakery     ......  245 

Environs  of  Rome 247 

General  View  of  Old  Forum  and  Capitol 254 

Old  Forum :  present  state,  looking  towards  the  Capitol    .        .  255 

The  Heart  of  Rome;  the  Fora,  the  Palatine,  etc.    .        .        .  261 

Spoils  from  Jerusalem :  Arch  of  Titus 263 

View  through  the  Arch  of  Titus 264 

Old  Forum :  looking  west.    Restoration 266 

Old  Forum,  looking  towards  Capitol.    Restoration          .        .  267 

Old  Forum,  present  condition,  looking  east      ....  270 

Interior  of  a  Basilica :  restored 273 

The  Tarpeian  Rock 275 

Forum  of  Augustus  and  Temple  of   Mars   the   Avenger; 

restored 277 

Illustrations  xxiii 


An  Imperial  Forum,  near  the  Column  of  Trajan.    Restora- 
tion        279 

Interior  of  the  Pantheon.     Restoration 281 

Arch  of  Titus 287 

Palatine  and  Palace  of  the  Csesars.    Restoration    .        .        .289 

Roman  Urn 290 

Caesar  Augustus 298 

Ruined  Aqueduct  in  the  Roman  Campagna     ....  302 

Praetorian  Guardsmen 310 

ASlinger 315 

Roman  Siege  Works.    Restoration 316 

Storming  a  City  with  the  Testitdo 317 

Catapult 318 

Cuirass 319 

Javelin:  pilum 320 

Sword 320 

Helmet 321 

Shield  of  the  Legionary 322 

Military  Trumpet 323 

Legionaries 324 

Roman  Officer  . 325 

Light-Armed  Soldier 327 

Storming  a  Besieged  City 331 

Coop  of  Sacred  Chickens 341 

Cicero  denouncing  Catiline  before  the  Senate  .        .        .        .346 

Plan  of  Roman  Public  Baths            363 

Castle  of  St.  Angelo  :  Tomb  of  Hadrian  in  its  present  state    .  371 

Tomb  of  Hadrian.    Restored 372 

At  the  Theater  Entrance 376 

Theater  at  Pompeii 379 

Circus  Maximus.    Restoration 385 

Race  in  the  Circus  Maximus 388 

Flavian  Amphitheater  (Colosseum) :  present  state  .        .        .  395 

Boxers 400 

Gladiators  saluting  the  Editor 402 

Defeated  Gladiator  Appealing  for  Mercy         ....  403 

Maison  Carrie,  Nlmes 408 

Farmer's  Calendar 413 

Circular  Temple,  probably  of  Goddess  Matuta,  Rome     .        .  415 

Roman  Altar 425 

xxii  Illustrations 


Eoman  Serving  Forks 117 

Drinking  Cup 118 

Slaves  working  in  a  Bakery 131 

Clients  gathering  in  the  Rain,  before  their  Patron's  Door        .  149 

Invalid  with  Attendants 162 

Scene  along  the  Appian  Way 178 

Pyramid  —  Tomb  of  Gaius  Cestius ......  179 

View  along  the  Appian  Way  showing  Funeral  Monuments      .  180 
Street  of  the  Tombs  at  Pompeii       .              •  .         .         .        .181 

Boy  Studying 194 

School  Discipline 196 

Grammarian  instructing  Two  Tipper  Pupils      ....  200 

Wax  Tablet  with  Stilus  Attached 207 

Writing  Tablets  and  Stilus 208 

Book  Cupboard 209 

Book  Container 210 

Double  Inkstand 210 

Pen  and  Scroll 211 

Book  Scroll 212 

Old  Forum,  looking  towards  Northern  Side  :  restoration         .  216 

Tradesmen's  Scales  and  Balances 224 

Monument  of  a  Hostler 231 

Gateway  at  Pompeii :  present  state 232 

Cheap  Grocery  and  Cook-Shop 235 

River  Boat  Loaded  with  Hogsheads  of  Wine   ....  241 

Distributing  Bread 243 

Oven  and  Grist  Mill  in  a  Bakery 245 

Environs  of  Rome 247 

General  View  of  Old  Forum  and  Capitol 254 

Old  Forum :  present  state,  looking  towards  the  Capitol    .        .  255 

The  Heart  of  Rome;  the  Fora,  the  Palatine,  etc.    .        .        .  261 

Spoils  from  Jerusalem :  Arch  of  Titus 263 

View  through  the  Arch  of  Titus 264 

Old  Forum  :  looking  west.    Restoration 266 

Old  Forum,  looking  towards  Capitol.    Restoration          .        .  267 

Old  Forum,  present  condition,  looking  east      ....  270 

Interior  of  a  Basilica :  restored 273 

The  Tarpeian  Rock 275 

Forum  of   Augustus  and   Temple   of   Mars  the   Avenger: 

restored 277 

Illustrations  xxiii 


An  Imperial  Forum,  near  the  Column  of  Trajan.    Restora- 
tion        279 

Interior  of  the  Pantheon.    Restoration 281 

Arch  of  Titus 287 

Palatine  and  Palace  of  the  Caesars.    Restoration    .        .        .  289 

Roman  Urn 290 

Csesar  Augustus 298 

Ruined  Aqueduct  in  the  Roman  Campagna     ....  302 

Praetorian  Guardsmen 310 

A  Slinger 315 

Roman  Siege  Works.    Restoration 316 

Storming  a  City  with  the  Testudo 317 

Catapult 318 

Cuirass 319 

Javelin :  pilum 320 

Sword 320 

Helmet 321 

Shield  of  the  Legionary 322 

Military  Trumpet 323 

Legionaries 324 

Roman  Officer  . 325 

Light-Armed  Soldier 327 

Storming  a  Besieged  City 331 

Coop  of  Sacred  Chickens 341 

Cicero  denouncing  Catiline  before  the  Senate  ....  346 

Plan  of  Roman  Public  Baths            363 

Castle  of  St.  Angelo  :  Tomb  of  Hadrian  in  its  present  state    .  371 

Tomb  of  Hadrian.    Restored 372 

At  the  Theater  Entrance 376 

Theater  at  Pompeii 379 

Circus  Maximus.    Restoration 385 

Race  in  the  Circus  Maximus 388 

Flavian  Amphitheater  (Colosseum) :  present  state  .        .        .  395 

Boxers 400 

Gladiators  saluting  the  Editor 402 

Defeated  Gladiator  Appealing  for  Mercy         ....  403 

Maison  Carrie,  Nimes 408 

Farmer's  Calendar 413 

Circular  Temple,  probably  of  Goddess  Matuta,  Rome     .        .  415 

Roman  Altar 425 

xxiv  Illustrations 


A  Military  Sacrifice 427 

Roman  Altar 428 

Vestal  Virgin 430 

Archi-Gallus,  Priest  of  Cybele 441 

Shrine  of  Cybele 442 

Mithras  the  Bull  Slayer 446 

Mithraic  Emblems 447 

Traveling  Carriage  (Redo) 454 

Roman  Bridge 455 

Roman  Spades 458 

Ruins  of  Hadrian's  Villa  at  Tivoli  (Tibur)       .        .        .        .459 

Ruins  of  Hadrian's  Villa  at  Tivoli  (Tibur)        ....  460 

Villa  of  Pliny  the  Younger;  restored 461 

Roman  Garden  Scene 463 

Marble  Urn  or  Garden  Ornament 464 

Hadrian 469 

View  in  the  Christian  Catacombs 473 


A   DAY   IN   OLD   ROME 


1.  The  Prosperity  of  Rome  in  the  Reign  of  Hadrian  (117- 
138  A.D.).  —  In  the  year  134  A.D.  the  great  Emperor  Hadrian 
was  turning  his  steps  back  to  Rome  after  three  long  journeys 
of  inspection  over  his  enormous  dominions.  Never  before 
had  that  Empire  seemed  so  prosperous.  No  serious  war 
was  upon  the  horizon.  The  Parthian  king  and  the  Germanic 
chiefs  were  only  too  happy  to  keep  beyond  the  Euphrates  or 
the  Rhine  and  the  Danube,  highly  respectful  before  the 
disciplined  power  of  the  guardian  legions. 

In  the  provinces  there  was  generally  loyalty  and  con- 
tentment, save  only  in  unhappy  Judsea  where  the  Roman 
generals  were  stamping  out  the  last  embers  of  a  desperate 
rebellion,  undertaken  by  those  Jews  allowed  to  remain  in 
Palestine  after  Titus's  capture  of  Jerusalem  (70  A.D.).  The 
imperial  government  created  by  Augustus  and  strengthened 
by  later  emperors  appeared  an  unqualified  success,  while  the 
tyrannies  of  Nero  and  Domitian  were  becoming  things  merely 
of  frightened  memory. 

All  over  this  vast  Empire  with  a  population  and  area  nearly 
equal  to  that  of  the  United  States  there  reigned  the  blessed 
Pax  Romana.  Robbers  had  been  cleared  from  the  roads 
and  pirates  from  the  seas.  Commerce  went  to  and  fro  with 
surprisingly  little  interference  from  customs  barriers  or 
provincial  boundaries.  The  same  coin  was  current  from  the 


A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

cataracts  of  the  Nile  to  the  Caledonian  Wall  across  Britain. 
A  scientific  system  of  law,  on  the  whole  administered  with 
remarkable  firmness  and  justice,  prevailed  between  the 
same  wide  boundaries. 

The  central  government  was,  indeed,  in  essence  a  des- 
potism, but  it  was  a  despotism  infused  with  an  extreme  intel- 
ligence, and  it  left  many  of  the  forms  of  liberty,  especially  of 
local  liberty,  in  the  municipal  matters  which  touch  men 
nearest  home.  The  Emperor  Hadrian,  himself,  although 
sometimes  guilty  of  eccentricities  and  even  harshness,  was, 
in  the  main,  a  ruler  singularly  intent  upon  benefiting  his 
subjects.  In  all  his  constant  travels  he  had  showered 
favors  upon  the  communities  which  he  visited.  It  was  as  if 
he  (and  his  great  predecessor  Trajan)  had  set  out  to  justify 
monarchy  as  an  ideal  government  by  showing  how  much  good 
monarchs  could  do  to  the  governed. 

2.  Increasing  Glory  of  the  Imperial  City,  —  All  this  pros- 
perity had  inevitably  reacted  upon  the  city  of  Rome  itself. 
In  a  most  literal  sense  of  the  word  "  all  roads  led  to  Rome," 
not  merely  the  vast  netwdrk  of  government  highways  and 
the  paths  of  maritime  commerce,  but  those  of  intellectual, 
artistic,  and  moral  influence.  Rome  was  incomparably  the 
best  market  for  the  merchant,  it  provided  the  largest  audi- 
ences for  the  philosopher  or  rhetorician,  the  wealthiest  patrons 
for  the  sculptor.  It  had,  in  fact,  become  the  common  center 
and  crucible  for  everything  good  and  bad  in  the  huge, 
teeming  Mediterranean  World. 

Outwardly  the  city  was  near  the  summit  of  its  architec- 
tural perfection.  In  Cicero's  day  it  could  not  compare  in  the 
elegance  of  its  squares  and  avenues,  and  the  magnificence  of 
its  buildings  with  Alexandria,  Antioch,  or  several  lesser  cities 
which  lay  at  the  mercy  of  the  legions ;  but  with  the  coming 
of  the  Empire  there  has  been  an  incessant  process  of  de- 
molishing, rebuilding,  and  extending.  "  I  found  Rome 

The  General  Aspect  of  the  City  3 

built  of  brick;  I  leave  it  built  of  marble,"  Augustus  had 
boasted  when  near  his  end  (14  A.D.).  However,  even  after 
him,  there  had  been  only  a  gradual  transformation  until  the 
great  fire  of  Nero  in  64  A.D.  Terrible  as  has  then  been  the 
devastation,  the  calamity  has  at  least  required  a  general 
rebuilding  of  almost  half  of  the  city  usually  upon  a  much 
handsomer  and  more  artistic  scale.  Since  then  each  suc- 
ceeding Emperor  has  tried  to  leave  some  great  architectural 
memorial  behind  him.  Vespasian  and  Titus  have  built  the 
Flavian  Amphitheater  (Colosseum),  Trajan  a  noble  Forum, 
and  Hadrian  is  now  completing  a  magnificent  "  Temple 
of  Venus  and  Rome." 

After  this  time  there  will  perhaps  be  a  few  more  remarkable 
structures  erected,  e.g.  the  Baths  of  Caracalla  and  of  Dio- 
cletian and  the  Basilica  (Court  House)  of  Constantine,  but 
for  practical  purposes  imperial  Rome  has  now  been  created. 
In  134  A.D.  it  is  already  architecturally  what  it  will  be  in 
410  A.D.  (except  then  for  a  certain  decadence)  when  Alaric's 
Goths  knocked  at  the  gates.  There  is,  therefore,  hardly  a 
better  time  than  this  year,  134  A.D.,  to  visit  the  "  Eternal 
City/'  if  we  would  discuss  the  best  and  the  worst,  the  strength 
and  the  weakness  of  that  Roman  society  which  is  to  hold 
men  fascinated  across  the  ages.  Let  it  be  assumed,  therefore, 
that  on  a  warm  spring  morning  we  are  being  guided  about  the 
enormous  capital  of  which  bronze-skinned  Arabs  and  blond- 
haired  Frisians  alike  speak  in  awestruck  whispers ;  the  city 
apparently  ordained  by  the  gods  to  be  the  center  and  ruler 
of  the  conquered  world. 

3.  Population  and  Crowded  Condition  of  Rome.  —  Before 
entering  such  a  metropolis  it  is  a  fair  question  to  present: 
"  How  large  is  Rome,  at  this  time  of  our  supposed  visit?  " 
Unfortunately  the  imperial  government  will  fail  to  transmit 
to  later  ages  its  census  statistics,  and  the  conjectures  of 
learned  men  will  vary  most  seriously.  By  taking  into  ac- 

4  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

count  some  data  as  to  the  number  of  citizens  receiving  grain 
doles,  by  adding  to  these  the  known  size  of  the  garrison,  by 
establishing  the  extent  of  a  great  colony  of  resident  foreigners 
and  the  still  greater  hordes  of  slaves,  assertions  can  be  made 
that  the  population  exceeds  2,000,000,  and  again  that  it  is 
barely  800,000.  Both  reckonings  may  be  quite  wrong. 
It  seems  reasonable  to  suppose  that  in  Julius  Caesar's  day 
the  city  lacked  considerably  of  1,000,000  inhabitants,  but 
these  probably  increased  with  the  rising  prosperity  of  the 
Empire.  Hadrian's  "  City  Praefect "  perhaps  has  to  ad- 
minister the  peace  for  some  1,500,000  people.  In  later  gen- 
erations, however,  the  population  will  again  slowly  dwindle 
with  the  wave  of  the  imperial  system. 

However,  this  million  and  a  half  produces  a  sense  of  im- 
mensity greater  perhaps  than  that  in  a  later  New  York  or 
London.  Rome  is,  roughly  speaking,  some  three  miles 
long  and  nearly  the  same  in  breadth,  no  remarkable  area  as 
American  cities  will  go ; 1  but,  as  duly  explained,  population 
within  these  limits  is  extraordinarily  congested.  The  streets 
overflow  with  pedestrians  to  the  exclusion  of  most  wheeled 
traffic.  There  are  no  "  rapid  transit "  cars,  no  taxicabs, 
no  telephones,  and  even  no  public  postal  service. 

If,  therefore,  you  have  the  slightest  business  across  the 
city,  you  must  walk  the  entire  distance,  or  be  borne  in  a 
litter  or  send  a  messenger  —  methods  taking  about  equally 
long.  As  will  be  seen,  even  the  use  of  horses  and  carriages 
is  largely  prohibited.  Besides,  the  mild  climate  and  method 
of  building  the  houses  compel  people  to  spend  a  great  frac- 
tion of  their  day  in  the  streets,  or  in  the  public  plazas  and 
buildings.  Human  life  teems  everywhere.  One  is  over- 
whelmed by  the  jostling  multitudes  even  in  the  remoter 

1  Outside  of  these  limits  were,  of  course,  wide  and  populous  sub- 
urbs whose  inhabitants  might  be  included  in  the  estimated  total  of 

The  General  Aspect  of  the  City  5 

quarters.  Everything  (including  many  personal  acts  which 
other  ages  keep  in  strict  privacy)  seems  going  on  in  public. 
There  is,  in  fact,  no  city  where  it  is  easier  to  be  "  lost  in  a 
crowd  "  than  in  Rome ;  no  city  where  the  good  and  the  bad, 
the  divine  and  the  bestial  in  humanity  are  so  incessantly 
in  evidence  and  in  such  abrupt  contact. 

4.  The  Country  around  Rome.  —  Rome  is  some  thirteen 
miles  from  the  nearest  seacoast,  but  the  distance  down  the 
twisting  "yellow"  Tiber  to  Ostia  ("River  Mouth")  is 
nearly  twice  as  great.  The  city  itself  lies  near  the  northerly 
end  01  that  buoad  plain  later  called  the  Campagna  which 
stretches  southeasterly  for  nearly  seventy  miles  but  whereof 
the  width  betwixt  ocean  and  Apennines  seldom  exceeds 
twenty-five.  Looking  off  from  any  of  the  heights  of  Rome 
towards  the  east,  the  whole  horizon  from  north  to  south 
seems  traced  by  a  continuous  chain  of  mountains  about  ten 
to  twenty  miles  distant.  Very  beautiful  they  are  when  seen 
through  a  soft  blue  or  golden  haze  beneath  the  Italian  sky ; 
and  by  facing  straight  north  one  can  discover  the  round 
isolated  peak  of  Mount  S6racte  (2420  feet  high),  made  famous 
by  the  poets,  near  whose  southeastern  base  the  Tiber  winds 
on  its  tortuous  progress  towards  the  sea. 

Then  following  the  line  of  mountains  southward  one  can 
notice  the  chain  of  the  Sabine  hills,  some  with  peaked  and 
lofty  summits,  and  next  is  discovered  the  spot  where  the 
Tiber  rests  embosomed  in  its  gray  olive  groves.  More 
southward  still  are  the  hills  on  whose  slopes  rests  "  Cool 
Praeneste,"  and  then,  running  over  a  horizon  of  four  or 
five  miles  and  ending  in  the  plain,  is  beheld  the  noble  form 
of  Mount  Albinus,  the  isolated  volcanic  peak  sacred  to  the 
Latin  Jupiter  and  at  whose  base  by  tradition  lay  Alba  Longa, 
the  parent  town  of  Rome ;  after  that  the  view  takes  in  noth- 
ing but  the  undulating  plain,  which  at  length  sinks  off  into 
the  sea. 


A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

5.  The  Tiber  and  Its  Valley.  —  Near  at  hand,  of  course, 
is  the  Campagna  itself,  a  series  of  gentle  ridges,  covered  at 
this  epoch  with  one  long  series  of  delightful  suburban  villas 
and  thrifty  produce  farms,  sometimes  grouped  into  rich  little 
villages.1  In  a  general  direction  of  north  to  south  the  Tiber 
flows  along  the  western  skirts  of  Rome,  with  only  a  minor 

1.  Ofcttlt  Ukrk«t 
(Forum  Bowttrai) 


Map  of  BOMB 

in  the  Days  of  Hadrian 
about  136  A.D. 

4.  Plralnltn  Olrau 

Ctwnlt  of  th»  old  8-rrUn 


7.  SMpteJnll* 

built  alt?.  Circuit  of  Uttr 
Aunltu  Wtlli,  built  M 
S76  A.D.  IndlOTtM  rt 
iriiloh  VM  pnbftbly  by  tb* 
•(•  of  Hftdriim  ftOrty  tiiAlj 

settlement  on  the  western  banks.  If  it  ran  by  a  less  famous 
city,  the  Tiber  would  pass  for  a  rather  ordinary  stream.  Its 
yellow,  turbid  waters  come  with  such  force  from  the  Apen- 
nines that  there  can  be  little  navigation  fbr  part  of  the  year 
beyond  the  point  where  the  Anio  flows  into  it  from  the  east, 
about  three  miles  above  Rome.  Grain  and  timber  can,  how- 

1  At  present,  of  course,  largely  a  treeless  waste,  very  sparsely  popu- 
lated and  afflicted  with  malaria. 

The  General  Aspect  of  the  City  7 

ever,  be  floated  down  on  barges,  and  when  the  mountain 
snows  are  melting  the  river  swells  to  a  truly  dangerous  size, 
flooding  all  the  lowlands  near  the  city  and  sometimes,  de- 
spite a  careful  system  of  dykes,  causing  freshets  which  are 
simply  ruinous  to  large  sections  of  the  metropolis  inhabited 
by  the  very  poor.  The  Emperors  Augustus  and  Tiberius 
set  up  a  regular  board  of  "  Tiber  Commissioners  "  to  keep  the 
rebellious  river  in  bounds,  but  their  efforts  are  still  often  vain. 

Between  Rome  and  Ostia  the  Tiber  is  indeed  navigable 
at  most  seasons  for  the  smaller  kind  of  vessels,  but,  as  will 
be  seen,  Rome  is  scarcely  a  first-class  seaport;  however, 
special  river  craft  easily  bring  up  heavy  freight  from  Ostia — 
an  enormous  economic  advantage  for  the  great  city. 

6.  A  View  over  Rome  from  the  Campus  Martius.  —  Be- 
fore descending  into  the  city  it  is  well  to  ascend  some  height 
or  lofty  building  well  to  the  western  verge  of  the  Campus 
Martius  ("  Field  of  Mars  ")  at  the  great  bend  of  the  Tiber 
as  ft  sweeps  by  its  levees.  Before  the  onlooker  there  spreads 
what  seems  at  first  an  indescribable  confusion  of  enormous 
buildings,  gilded  roofs,  stately  domes,  serried  phalanxes  of 
marble  columns  and  far-stretching  porticoes,  some  on  level 
ground,  others  upon  the  summits  or  clinging  to  the  slopes  of 
several  hills.  Mixed  with  these  are  an  incalculable  number 
of  red-tiled  roofs  obviously  covering  more  humble  private 
structures.  Here  and  there,  mostly  on  the  outskirts,  are  also 
broad  patches  of  greenery,  public  parks,  and  private  gardens. 

After  more  study,  however,  the  first  confusion  begins  to 
adjust  itself  into  a  kind  of  order.  It  is  possible,  for  example, 
to  recognize  directly  in  the  foreground  a  small  and  compara- 
tively abrupt  hill  crowned  at  either  end  by  temples  of  pecu- 
liar magnificence.  This  is  the  Capitol,  particularly  the  seat 
of  the  fane  of  Jupiter  Optimus  Maodmus  ("  Jupiter  Best  and 
Greatest "),  officially  the  chief  temple  of  Rome.  Beyond 
it  at  a  certain  distance  rises  a  gray  cylinder  of  enormous 


A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

bulk.  That,  of  course,  is  the  Flavian  Amphitheater,  and  in 
the  hollow  between  it  and  the  capitol  but  nigh  concealed  by 
many  structures  stretches  the  Old  Forum  of  the  Republic 
—  the  most  famous  spot  in  Rome.  To  the  south  of  the 
Forum,  and  in  no  wise  concealed,  lifts  another  hill  covered 
with  a  vast  complex  of  buildings,  which,  even  when  seen  in 
the  distance,  is  of  extraordinary  splendor.  This  is  the  Pala- 
tine, the  present  residence  of  the  Caesars  and  the  seat  of  the 

cording to  Von  Falke. 

Just  to  the  south  and  right  of  the  Palatine  there  runs  a  long 
hollow,  the  edges  of  which  flash  with  settings  of  marble; 
it  is  the  Cirvua  Maximus,  the  chief  race  course.  These  are 
the  structures  or  localities  that  stand  out  clearly  at  first 
glance.  Close  at  hand,  in  the  Campus  Martius  itself,  is  a 
perfect  labyrinth  of  covered  promenades,  dome-capped  pub- 
lic baths,  theaters,  and  circuses,  as  well  as  the  remarkable 
Pantheon  and  other  far-famed  structures,  the  details  whereof 
can  wait.  Behind  the  onlooker  is  winding  the  Tiber,  spanned 
by  at  least  eight  bridges ;  and  across  the  river,  before  the 

The  General  Aspect  of  the  City  9 

view  wanders  off  into  the  hills  of  Etruria,  are  seen  numerous 
suburban  settlements  and  heights  whereof  the  most  con- 
spicuous is  that  around  Mount  Janiculum  crested  with  ver- 
dant gardens.  But  our  attention  must  be  centered  upon 
Rome  itself.  Before  descending  from  the  coign  of  vantage 
it  is  needful  to  distinguish  her  Seven  Hills. 

7.  The  Seven  Hills  of  Rome.  —  The  two  most  famous 
of  these  hills  (the  Capitoline  and  the  Palatine)  have  been 
named  already,  but  they  have  five  distinguished  rivals. 
Probably  in  prehistoric  days  all  these  "  mountains  "  rose 
like  separate  islands  from  a  treacherous  marsh  or  even  from 
a  lake  connected  with  the  Tiber ;  but  long  since  they  have 
silted  down,  and  presently  man  came  to  add  his  drains  and 
channels.  They  are  now,  therefore,  connected  by  valleys 
which  are  crammed  with  habitations,  although  in  any  case 
the  most  desirable  residences  are  near  the  summits  of  the 
hills  and  the  humble  folk  are  compelled  to  live  in  the  gulleys. 
Each  of  these  hills  has  a  history :  for  example,  the  Aventine 
is  alleged  to  have  remained  apart  from  the  others  for  long 
after  the  founding  of  the  city,  merely  as  a  fortified  outpost 
for  the  protection  of  shepherds ;  but  we  cannot  stop  to  recite 
pleasant  legends. 

The  "  Seven  Hills  "  of  Rome  have  really  become  eight,  as 
the  city  has  extended.  Not  one  of  these  is  lofty,  but  they 
give  a  diversity  to  the  city  that  prevents  the  great  masses  of 
blank  walls  and  of  ungainly  tenement  houses  lining  most  of 
the  streets  from  becoming  too  ugly,  and  they  secure  light  and 
air  to  many  quarters  that  are  grievously  congested. 

These  hills  can  be  thus  catalogued : 

1.  Capitoline,  about  150  feet  above  sea  level.1 

2.  Palatine  (S.  E.  of  Capitoline),  about  166  feet  high. 

1  These  are  modern  heights ;  since  the  days  of  the  Empire  there  has  been 
much  leveling  down.     All  the  hills  were  then  somewhat  higher. 

10  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

3.  Aventine  (South  of  Palatine),  about  146  feet  high. 

4.  Calian  (East  of  Palatine),  about  158  feet  high. 

5.  Esquiline-  (North  of  Ccelian),  about  204  feet  high. 

6.  Viminol  (North  of  Esquiline),  about  160  feet  high. 

7.  Quirinal  (N.  E,  of  Capitoline),  about  170  feet  high. 
To  the  familiar  "  seven  "  ought  to  be  added  the  hill  of  the 

great  northern  suburb. 

8.  Pincian,  or  "  Hill  of  the  Gardens  "  (North  of  Quirinal), 
about  204  feet  high. 

Highest  of  all  rises  the  Janiculum  beyond  the  Tiber,  297 
feet  high ;  commanding  a  noble  prospect  over  the  city  and 
the  whole  Campagna  beyond.  It  formed,  therefore,  in  the 
olden  days,  a  very  proper  place  for  the  fort  with  its  watch- 
tower  and  its  sentinel,  when  Rome  dreaded  an  Etruscan  raid 
from  the  north,  and  when  the  citizens  dropped  their  tools 
to  seize  their  weapons  the  minute  the  "  flag  on  Janiculum  " 
was  struck  as  signal  that  the  foe  was  at  hand. 

8.  Building  Materials  Used  in  Home.  —  The  most  cur- 
sory view  of  the  city  gives  an  overwhelming  impression  of  the 
enormous  quantities  of  building  material,  as  well  as  of  the  ex- 
penditure .of  human  labor  which  has  gone  into  the  creation 
of  Rome.  Strabo  the  geographer1  has  wisely  observed 
that  it  is  lucky  that  the  city  can  get  a  constant  supply  of 
stone,  timber,  etc.,  on  account  of  "  the  ceaseless  building 
which  is  rendered  needful  by  the  pulling  down  of  houses  and 
on  account  of  the  great  fires  and  constant  sales  of  [house] 
property/7  everybody  being  incessantly  scrapping  old 
buildings,  erecting  new  ones,  and  speculating  generally  in 
real  estate. 

Of  course,  the  great  public  buildings  are  erected  with  ex- 
tremely durable  materials  which  will  defy  the  assaults  of 
time,  but  the  vast  districts  of  ugly  tenement  houses  are  often 

1  He  wrote  hia  great  "  Geography  "  not  long  after  1  A.D. 

The  General  Aspect  of  the  City         11 

thrown  together  in  as  flimsy  a  manner  as  those  in  the  least 
elegant  quarters  of  American  cities  of  another  age.  How- 
ever, there  are  almost  no  wooden  houses  in  Rome ;  and  for 
the  better  structures  there  is  provided  most  excellent  build- 
ing stone.  The  standard  masonry  is  of  tufa,  a  soft  red  or 
black  stone  needing  a  stucco  to  protect  it  from  the  weather ; 
for  superior  work  there  is  dark  brown  peperino,  golden 
travertine,  and  last  but  not  least,  for  the  finest  buildings, 
white  and  many  colored  marble.  The  marble  trade,  as  will 
be  explained,  is,  in  fact,  one  of  the  greatest  commercial  ac- 
tivities of  the  city. 

9.  The  Great  Use  of  Concrete.  —  Going  about  Rome  one 
is  led  to  imagine,  however,  that  many  very  pretentious 
structures  are  of  solid  brick.  This  is  seldom  the  case.  Bricks 
and  tiles  are  often  in  evidence  because  they  can  be  worked 
into  the  face  of  naturally  ugly  concrete  to  disguise  the 
nakedness  of  its  surfaces.  Concrete  has  really  made  it  com- 
paratively easy  to  create  Rome  as  an  enormous  city.  If 
concrete  has  not  been  invented  by  the  Romans,  they  are  at 
least  the  first  great  people  to  put  it  to  a  very  general  use. 
In  their  neighborhood  can  be  found  huge  quantities  of 
pozzolana,1  a  volcanic  deposit  which  can  be  readily  worked 
up  into  admirable  cement.  It  is  this  very  practical  material 
which  makes  the  vast  domes,  cupolas,  and  other  architec- 
tural triumphs  possible.  Many  a  pretentious  temple  or  resi- 
dence flaunts  a  marble  exterior ;  this,  however,  is  a  mere  shell 
and  covering ;  strip  it  away,  and  within  is  an  enormous  mass 
of  concrete. 

This  material  can  be  handled  by  comparatively  small 
labor  gangs,  rendering  it  feasible  to  erect  huge  structures 
without  mobilizing  such  wholesale  man-power  as  was  needed 
for  the  great  monuments  of  Egypt.  It  is  very  durable, 

1  This  and  many  other  terms  for  Roman  building  materials  are  from 
the  modern  Italian. 

A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

almost  nothing  can  destroy  it.  Indeed  it  will  be  written 
later  that  "  This  pozzolana  [for  concrete]  more  than  any  other 
material  contributed  to  make  Rome  the  proverbial  '  Eternal 
City.' "  [Middleton.] 

10.  Greek  Architectural  Forms  Plus  the  Arch  and  Vault.  — 
Every  building  by  the  Tiber  apparently  bears  the  impress  of 

Greece.  Greek  archi- 
tects are  said  to  have 
designed  many  of  the 
finest  public  edifices, 
while  Greek  artists  have 
chiseled  the  statues  or 
painted  the  pictures 
which  all  the  Roman 
world  admires.  The 
"  orders  "  of  the  col- 
umns everywhere  in  evi- 
dence are  the  Doric, 
Ionic,  or  Corinthian 
that  one  might  find  at 
Athens,  although  it  can 
be  complained  that  the  Romans  are  over-fond  of  the  most 
ornate  form  —  the  florid  Corinthian. 

In  general,  lovers  of  the  purer  architectural  types  of  Hellas 
may  allege  that  Roman  architecture  and  ornamentation  is  too 
elaborate  and  extravagant.  There  are  too  many  scrolls  and 
floriated  designs.  Every  possible  surface  is  covered  with 
statuary  or  bas-reliefs,  often  in  decidedly  inferior  taste. 
There  is  too  garish  a  display,  also,  of  blue,  green,  white, 
and  orange-colored  marble.  The  whole  effect  of  most 
Roman  buildings  is,  therefore,  grand  rather  than  beautiful. 
It  is  the  architecture  of  a  civilization  apparently  growing 
a  little  weary  and  striving  to  startle  itself  by  remarkable 


The  General  Aspect  of  the  City         13 

Nevertheless,  this  borrowing  from  Greece  has  not  been 
slavish.  Romans,  if  not  great  artists,  are  master  adapters. 
Perhaps  they  have  not  invented  the  arch  and  the  vault,  *  but 
in  any  case  they  have  utilized  them  in  connection  with  the 
Greek  system  of  columns  to  produce  magnificent  effects 
whereof  Argos  and  Ephesus  never  dreamed.  By  concrete 

ARCH  OP  CONSTANTINE:  typical  of  many  triumphal  arches:  date  about 

315  A*D. 

vaulting  can  be  made  those  enormous  substructures  which 
sustain  the  great  palaces,  and  again,  the  lofty  domes  of  such 
splendid  creations  as  the  Pantheon.  By  the  arches  can  be 
upheld  the  tiers  of  the  Flavian  Amphitheater,  the  pretentious 
company  of  theaters  and  circuses,  and  last  but  not  least  the 
long  arrays  of  stately  aqueducts  which  bring  the  great  water 

1  Very  possibly  the  Etruscans  were  the  actual  inventors,  although  the 
principle  of  the  arch  was  known  in  the  Old  Orient. 

14  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

supply  so  many  miles  to  Rome.  Underground  also  the  arch 
system  is  upbearing  the  vast  network  of  sewers  which  has 
redeemed  the  city  from  a  quagmire.  In  the  fora  and  across 
many  avenues  are  thrown  in  their  turn  the  imposing  triumphal 
arches,  crowned  with  heroic  statues  or  with  prancing  chariots 
which  are  unmatched  by  anything  in  Greece. 

Having  taken  in  the  generalities,  it  is  now  proper  to  go 
down  from  our  viewpoint  and  plunge  boldly  into  the  vast 
city.  The  wise  man  should  not,  however,  visit  at  first  the 
Fora,  the  Palatine,  and  the  other  "  show  places  "  which 
officious  guides  here  as  everywhere  are  always  glad  to  display 
to  visitors.  More  helpful  it  is  to  examine  at  the  outset 
certain  typical  streets  first  in  a  poor  and  next  in  a  more  aris- 
tocratic quarter,  to  enter  the  houses,  and  to  penetrate  the 
daily  lives  of  the  masses  of  the  people.  Then  with  bet- 
ter understanding  can  one  approach  the  famous  "  Heart  of 


11.  The  Regions  of  Rome:  Fashionable  and  Plebeian 
Quarters.  —  The  great  Augustus  divided  the  capital  into 
14  regiones  or  "wards"  and  these  in  turn  into  265  vid  or 
precincts.  Obviously  some  of  these  districts  are  more  select 
than  others.  No  citizen  of  decent  tastes  will,  unless  com- 
pelled by  dire  poverty,  live  in  the  network  of  hovels  beyond 
the  bridges  and  under  the  brow  of  the  Janiculum,  where  a 
great  colony  of  Jews  and  other  Orientals  exist  in  what  is 
alleged  to  be  extreme  squalor.  If  you  go  south  also  from  the 
Forum  and  Palatine,  you  are  likely  to  run  into  a  wide  com- 
plex of  unlovely  industrial  districts  and  laborers'  quarters, 
especially  along  ihe  Tiber,  although  there  are  still  some  very 
good  residential  streets  upon  the  Aventine. 

In  general  the  northern  end  of  the  city  is  the  fashionable 
section,  although  the  Subura,  the  street  running  out  between 
the  Esquiline  and  the  Viminal,  is  notorious  for  containing 
some  of  the  vilest  tenements  in  all  Rome.  To  live  in  a  "  Su- 
bura  garret "  is  about  the  greatest  possible  degradation 
socially.  Right  above  this  ill-favored  avenue,  however, 
slopes  the  Esquiline  itself,  lined  with  the  palaces  of  many  of 
the  most  exclusive  Senators.  Pliny  the  Younger  resided 
there  in  his  lifetime,1  and  a  rich  ex-consul  has  his  house  at 
present.  Rome  is,  in  fact,  decidedly  like  many  later  cities ; 
walk  only  a  few  blocks,  and  one  can  pass  from  the  bottom  to 
the  top  of  the  social  ladder.  Further  north,  in  the  regions 
of  the  parks  and  public  gardens,  the  fine  residences  are  prob- 

1  He  died  about  110  A.D. 



A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

ably  more  continuous,  but  one  can  never  know  Rome  by 
merely  visiting  its  ultra-genteel  quarters.  There  is,  conse- 
quently, no  better  place  to  begin  an  investigation  than  near 
the  Esquiline,  let  us  say  where  the  disreputable  Subura  runs 
northeast  towards  the  somewhat  more  select  "  Patrician 
Street "  (View  Patritius). 

STREET  IN  POMPEII  :  present  state.  Note  the  pavement,  the  stepping 
stones,  the  wayside  fountain,  and  the  numerous  subdivisions  into  small 
houses  or  shops. 

12.  A  Typical  Short  Street,  "Mercury  Street/'— We 
may  wisely  take  our  stand  facing  somewhat  southward,  with 
our  backs  to  the  Viminal  and  with  the  domes  of  the  huge 
Baths  of  Trajan  partially  in  sight  upon  the  heights  ahead. 
It  is  a  little  after  dawn  on  a  warm  spring  morning ;  but  all 
Rome,  we  shall  discover,  rises  very  early,  and  normally  goes 
to  bed  correspondingly  early.  Even  the  sedate  "  Conscript 
Fathers  "  of  the  Senate  are  supposed  to  convene  at  prima 
luce,  —  gray  morn.  What  can  be  seen  ? 

Streets  and  Street  Life 


To  any  later  judgment  this  "  Mercury  Street  "  (so  named 
from  a  local  temple) *  is  very  narrow,  not  over  fifteen  feet 
from  housewall  to  housewall.  Although  the  sun  has  now 
risen  the  way  is  still  uncomfortably  dark,  because  the  houses 
pressing  on  either  side 
rise  to  at  least  thirty 
or  forty  feet.  The 
roadway,  one  discov- 
ers, is  skillfully  and 
durably  paved  with 
heavy  lava  blocks,  and 
since  it  forms  a  regu- 
lar thoroughfare  it  has 
been  swept  reasonably 
clean ;  although  to 
right  and  left  in  the 
semi-darkness  can  be 
descried  impossible  al- 
leys barely  ten  feet 
wide  winding  off  be- 
tween the  tall  build- 
ings, and  these  side 
passages  are  more  than 
dirty.  This  street,  like 
the  great  majority  in 
Rome,  is  comparatively 
short.  You  come  to  an 

a  gentleman  followed  by  personal  slave 
with  umbrella.  After  Von  Falke* 

abrupt  turn,  or  perhaps  to  an  ascending  flight  of  stone  steps 
worn  slippery  by  innumerable  sandals,  and  immediately  enter 
into  a  quite  different  quarter. 

There  is  a  very  narrow  stone  sidewalk  but  it  differs  slightly 
before  each  house,  every  owner  being  required  to  make  his 
own  repairs.  In  the  pavement  broad  ruts  have  been  worn 

*  A  well-known  avenue  in  Pompeii  was  called  "Mercury  Street.'* 

18  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

by  the  wagons,  despite  the  restrictions  (presently  stated)  upon 
wheeled  traffic.  Very  few  streets  of  Rome  are  wide  enough 
for  two  carts  to  pass  freely;  and  every  driver  has  to  look 
ahead  and  frequently  to  wait  at  corners  to  let  other  teams 
get  by.  Upon  the  pavement  and  especially  at  intersecting 
crossways  are  set  groups  of  four  or  five  large  oblong  stepping 
stones ;  these  seem  needless  at  present  but  can  be  a  veritable 
godsend  in  the  rainy  season  when  every  "  Via  "  and  "  Vicus  " 
in  Rome  seems  converted  into  a  raging  torrent. 

13.  The  House  and  Shop  Fronts.  —  Looking  upward 
now,  one  is  instantly  confronted  by  a  long  expanse  of  stuc- 
coed walls  —  some  pink,  yellow,  or  bluish,  but  mostly  an 
ugly  brown.  The  lower  story,  quite  on  the  street  level,  is 
broken  either  by  the  petty  shops  which  open  their  shutters 
and  thrust  their  counters  clear  out  upon  the  pavement,  or 
else  it  is  merely  a  solid  blank  space  with  only  here  and  there 
a  doorway,  or  a  few  small  windows,  mere  peep-holes  for  fear 
of  burglars.  The  second  and  upper  stories,  however,  are  less 
solid.  There  are  many  larger  windows  set  with  window-boxes 
displaying  bright  flowers,  or  even  with  projecting  balconies 
which  reach  out  so  far  that  neighbors  in  opposite  houses  can 
sometimes  clasp  hands  above  the  hurrying  life  below. 

Shops  abound  almost  everywhere.  In  the  great  commer- 
cial quarters  by  the  fora,  the  Tiber  and  the  Campus  Martius, 
will  be  found  the  splendid  establishments  which  cater  to 
wealth,  but  no  quarter  of  Rome  is  too  mean  for  its  bakeries, 
vegetable  stands,  wine  shops,  and  cheap  restaurants.  In 
fact,  the  absence  of  a  speedy  means  of  interurban  communica- 
tion makes  a  multiplication  of  small  shops  absolutely  neces- 
sary. Most  of  these  retailers  do  business  on  the  pettiest 
scale,  and  a  glance  reveals  that  nearly  the  whole  stock  in 
trade  is  spread  on  the  counter  facing  the  street.  As  for  the 
shopkeeper,  ordinarily  he  lives  and  sleeps  either  in  a  dark 
cell  just  in  the  rear  or  in  an  equally  narrow  chamber  directly 

Streets  and  Street  Life 


STREET  SCENE  BEFORE  A  COOK-SHOP.    After  Von  Falke. 

A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

above  his  business.  "  Born  over  a  shop,"  snobbish  people 
say  when  they  wish  to  brand  some  person  as  a  nobody. 

14.  Street  Shrines  and  Fountains.  —  Nevertheless,  com- 
monplace and  darksome  as  this  street  may  seem,  there  are 
clear  tokens  both  of  an  active  religious,  also  of  an  artistic 

life.  On  the  flat  wall, 
beside  a  grocer's  stand, 
two  serpents  are  crudely 
painted  in  yellow —  em- 
blems of  the  guardian 
genii  of  the  place.  Op- 
posite, by  a  money- 
changer, is  painted  a 
fairly  presentable  Mer- 
cury, the  god  of  Gain. 
As  one  goes  about  the 
city  the  painted  snakes 
appear  almost  every- 
where, and  also  pictures 
of  Jupiter,  Minerva, 
and  Hercules. 

At  the  nearby  cross- 
roads, however,  is  some- 
thing more  important. 
Set  against  the  side  of  a 

building  is  a  little  niche 
SHRINE  AT  THE  CROSSWAYS.  ^  .^  ^  ^  jn  ^ 

of  an  altar.  Upon  this  pious  neighbors  can  deposit  small 
articles  of  food  for  the  "  Gods  of  the  Street  Crossings " 
(Lares  Compitalea),  and  above  is  a  low  relief  of  two  youthful 
deities,  male  and  female.  Early  as  it  now  is,  an  old  woman 
has  already  stolen  up  to  deposit  a  small  crust  —  for  the  little 
neighborhood  Lares  are  good  and  trusty  friends ;  they  will 
never  be  forgotten. 

Streets  and  Street  Life 

Opposite  this  shrine,  however,  a  group  of  laughing,  chatter- 
ing girls  is  mustering  around  a  gushing  fountain.  Romans 
are  justly  proud  of  their  excellent  water  supply.  Every 
house  of  any  pretentions  has  its  separate  faucets,  perhaps  in 
great  number  ;  but  the  poor  tenement  dwellers  must  depend 
upon  the  street  fountains.  Pure,  clear  water  is  shooting 
from  a  metal  pipe  into  a  broad  separate  stone  basin.  The 
stream  is  issuing  from  the  sculptured  head  of  a  Medusa  exe- 
cuted with  admirable  detail  and  vigor,  although  this  is  only 
one  of  thousands  of  similar  fountains  all  over  the  city.  At 
the  next  corner  the  water  is  spouting  from  an  eagle's  beak  ; 
at  another  from  the  mouth  of  a  calf,  or  the  head  of  a  Mercury. 

The  surplus  water  overflowing  the  basin  trickles  away  in 
a  streamlet  down  to  the  middle  of  the  street,  and  although 
this  adds  to  the  inconvenience  of  pedestrians  the  pitch  of  the 
ground  makes  the  flow  carry  away  much  of  the  rubbish 
(often  very  filthy)  which  is  thrown  out  recklessly  from  the 
shops  and  even  from  the  upper  windows.  It  is  thanks  partly 
to  this  admirable  water  system  that  Rome  is  not  even  more 
scourged  by  epidemics,  than  is  unhappily  the  case.1 

16.  Typical  Street  Crowds.  —  So  much  for  the  inanimate 
objects  in  Mercury  Street  ;  what  now  of  its  surging  human- 
ity? A  wise  law  of  Julius  Csesar  has  indeed  forbidden 
the  ordinary  use  of  wheeled  vehicles  in  the  city  streets  be- 
tween sunrise  and  the  "  tenth  hour  "  (4  P.M.).  This  is  a 
blessed  regulation  considering  the  narrow  width  of  even  the 
finest  avenues,  but,  nevertheless,  the  wagons  that  were  al- 
lowed to  enter  by  night  bringing  heavy  building  materials 
to  the  Senator  Rullianus's  new  mansion  have  now  to  be  suf- 
fered to  depart,  and  also  the  wain  that  had  rattled  up  in  the 

1  In  describing  Roman  street  life  and  its  scenes  let  it  be  said  once  and 
for  all  that  many  very  obvious  things  were  so  disgusting  and  revolting  to 
modern  notions  that  any  description  thereof  is  perforce  omitted.  Ancient 
life  contained  a  great  deal  of  social  dross  and  filthy  wickedness.  There  is  no 
need  to  dwell  on  such  matters,  but  then-  existence  should  not*be  forgotten. 

A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

darkness  with  flour  for  the  nearby  public  bakery.  Also  one 
may  possibly  see  a  Vestal  Virgin  or  one  of  the  superior  priests 
exercising  their  special  privileges  and  driving  in  a  chariot. 

The  street,  however,  is  crowding  with  life,  even  if  not  a 
horse  is  in  sight.  The  most  conspicuous  are  literally  dozens 
of  men,  each  with  a  heavy  toga  wrapped  carelessly  around 
him,  hurrying  frantically  in  every  direction.  In  other  cities 
and  other  ages  they  might  be  "  making  a  train/'  Here  they 
are  in  fact  "  clients,"  duty  bound  to  be  at  the  doors  of  their 
patrons  early  every  morning  to  pay  their  respects  and  seek 
their  bounty  (see  p.  149)  —  but  almost  every  other  type  of 
humanity  is  represented.  Great  numbers  of  boys  and  girls 
are  trudging  reluctantly  along  to  their  schools,  the  poorer 
bearing  their  own  packages  of  writing  tablets,  the  better 
dressed  each  followed  by  a  sedate  male  attendant,  a  peda- 
gogue, bearing  the  weapons  of  learning. 

In  and  out  there  also  go  youths  in  humble  attire,  often 
running  at  breakneck  speed,  thrusting  and  jostling  to  make 
their  way;  they  are  the  slave  messengers  from  the  great 
houses  flying  on  early  errands  for  their  masters.  One  of 
them  elbows  aside  a  tall  and  venerable  man  with  a  prodigi- 
ously long  beard  and  wrapped  in  a  trailing  but  none  too  spot- 
less mantle  —  he  is  a  Greek  philosopher  on  his  way  to  some 
mansion  where  he  will  perhaps  expound  the  theories  of  Epi- 
curus to  a  pleasure-loving  nobleman.  A  few  steps  further 
and  there  is  seen  a  fair-haired  German  clad  in  his  outlandish 
costume  of  undressed  wolf  skins  ;  hardly  behind  him  is  a  red- 
headed Gaul  in  a  short  tartan  cloak  ;  one  can  speedily  recog- 
nize also  a  hawk-eyed,  white-robed  Arab  from  the  edge  of  the 
deserts  and  presently  appears  a  grinning  negro,  black  as 
ebony  and  in  a  splendid  gilt  and  scarlet  livery  —  the  foot- 
boy  probably  of  some  rich  lady. 

16.  Frequent  Use  of  Greek  in  Rome.  —  The  bulk  of  the 
crowd,  to  be  sure,  is  Italian,  with  keen,  olive  faces,  dark 

Streets  and  Street  Life  23 

hair,  and  rather  short  stature,  graceful  and  incessantly 
gesturing.  But  the  Latin  chattered  on  every  hand  is  full 
of  uncouth  idioms,  the  sermo  plebis  calculated  to  make  Cicero 
turn  in  his  grave,  and  there  is  a  great  co-mingling  of  foreign 
words ;  above  all,  about  one  person  out  of  every  four  seems 
to  be  speaking  Greek,  now  abominably  corrupt,  now  in  the 
purest  Attic,  and  upon  penetrating  the  great  houses  one  would 
discover  Greek  to  be  even  more  truly  a  familiar  language. 

All  educated  Romans  write  and  speak  Greek  as  English- 
men and  Americans  will  never  learn  to  use  French.  Learned 
books  are  being  written  by  the  Tiber  in  the  incomparable 
tongue  of  Hellas,  and  only  the  most  ignorant  Romans  fail 
to  understand  simple  Greek  sentences.  In  short  Rome  seems 
close  to  becoming  a  bi-lingual  city.  The  reigning  emperor 
is  so  enthusiastic  for  things  Hellenic  that  his  foes  brand  Ha- 
drian as  "  the  Graecule."  Athens  and  Corinth  seem  almost 
to  have  conquered  their  conquerors. 

17.  Clamor  and  Thronging  in  the  Streets.  —  As  the  sun 
rises,  every  instant  the  street  becomes  more  crowded.  A  great 
din  is  rising  from  a  forge  just  inside  an  alley ;  a  second  noise 
from  a  carpenter  shop.  As  if  determined  to  be  heard  above 
everything  else,  from  a  second  story  comes  a  voice  bawling 
out  some  kind  of  a  declamation  —  it  is  a  rhetoric  school  get- 
ting into  action,  and  an  ambitious  youth  is  denouncing  the 
dead  tyrant  Phalaris  at  the  top  of  his  lungs.  By  yonder  wall, 
almost  completely  blocking  the  sidewalk,  a  nondescript  barber 
has  set  down  a  stool  and  is  clipping  a  victim  with  huge  scissors. 
Close  by  him  stands  a  cook's  boy  guarding  two  braziers,  on  one 
of  which  are  boiled  peas,  on  the  other  small  sausages  that  are 
kept  smoking  hot.  Early  as  the  hour  may  be,  workmen  and 
others  who  have  an  active  day  before  them  are  standing  around 
and  laying  in  a  hearty  breakfast.  Almost  upsetting  this  throng 
comes  a  countryman  flogging  a  donkey  whose  huge  paniers 
laden  with  garden  truck  project  dangerously  to  either  side. 

24  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

The  noise  increases  continually.  From  another  lane  there 
comes  more  shouting.  An  auctioneer  is  knocking  down  the 
furniture  of  a  poor  bankrupt,  and  the  bidding  is  growing 
violent.  All  the  shopkeepers  are  bawling  their  wares  to  each 
prospective  purchaser.  Now  there  is  a  clang  and  jangling ; 
pushing  the  crowd  aside  march  ten  soldiers,  five  abreast, 
with  insolent  strides,  their  optio  (sub-centurion)  stalking  be- 
fore them.  Their  gilded  armor  and  helmets  and  the  scar- 
let kilts  peeping  under  their  cuirasses,  proclaim  them  to 
be  "  Praetorians,"  proud  members  of  the  imperial  guard. 
Gilded  shields  clatter  on  their  backs ;  they  warn  the  slaves 
and  hucksters  away  with  their  spear  butts  while  their  officer's 
red  plume  nods  arrogantly. 

Hardly  are  they  gone  before  there  comes  the  crash  of  some 
barbaric  music;  one  hears  castinets,  trumpets,  drums,  and 
sistra  (a  kind  of  glorified  bronze  rattle),  and  unmelodious 
singing.  Tossing  their  arms,  waving  blunted  swords  or 
pounding  them  on  light  shields,  along  comes  a  troupe  of  the 
priests  and  priestesses  of  Cybele,  the  uncouth  Asiatic  god- 
dess; the  women,  dark-skinned  Syrians,  whirling  in  wild 
dances  with  hair  aflying,  the  priests  puff -cheeked,  smooth- 
faced creatures,  busily  pounding  with  their  noise-making 
instruments.  They  are  headed  for  their  temple  to  spend  a 
day  of  orgy. 

18.  The  Processions  Attending  Great  Nobles.  —  Suddenly 
there  is  a  partial  silence.  Youths  in  livery  are  moving 
down  the  street  flourishing  white  wands  \  "  Way,  way  for 
his  Excellency ,"  they  are  shouting.  Instantly  the  word 
flies  around,  "  The  Praetor  Fundinus !  "  Hucksters  cease 
shouting.  Everybody  stands  still  and  all  who  wear  hoods  or 
hats  hastily  bare  their  heads, l  for  the  praetor  represents 
"  The  Majesty  of  the  Roman  People."  Behind  his  matorea 

1  If  a  magistrate  had  met  any  persons  on  horseback,  they  also  would 
have  been  bound  to  dismount  on  meeting  him. 

Streets  and  Street  Life  25 

("  Way  Clearers  ")  a  full  score  of  toga-clad  clients  swing  into 
sight  marching  ahead  of  the  great  man.  He  rides  in  a  blue 
tasseled  litter  borne  by  eight  tall  Cappadocians  of  equal 
height  and  pace.  Just  in  front  of  them  march  two  haughty 
lictors,  attendants  of  honor,  with  bundles  of  rods,  the  official 
"  fasces,"  conspicuously  resting  upon  their  shoulders.1 
Close  beside  the  litter  walks  a  well-groomed  man  with  a 
marked  Greek  profile  —  the  confidential  freedman  and  man 
of  business  of  the  magistrate.  Behind  trail  more  clients  and 
a  greater  retinue  of  slaves.  Fundinus  himself  heeds  little 
the  incessant  greetings  cast  at  him.  He  can  be  seen  lolling 
on  his  cushions,  with  the  little  curtains  thrown  back  just 
enough  to  show  the  purple  embroidery  on  his  official  toga. 
A  book,  half  unrolled,  is  in  his  hand  —  for  it  is  the  best  of  form 
to  affect  a  certain  bookishness  in  scenes  of  great  distraction. 

As  the  praetor's  train  advances,  however,  it  is  met  by 
another  headed  in  the  opposite  direction.  A  great  concourse 
appears  of  handsome  slaves,  all  wearing  brown  coats  and 
each  bearing  a  box  or  package  upon  his  shoulder ;  then  fol- 
lows a  group  of  pretty  Levantine  slave-girls  gaudily  clad, 
then  a  brown  Egyptian  boy  carrying  a  pet  monkey;  then 
a  simpering  Celtic  maid  with  a  large  basket  from  which  peers 
a  small  and  very  uneasy  lap-dog ;  next  a  perfect  hedge  of 
upper  slaves  and  freedmen,  some  carrying  musical  instru- 
ments, some  small  caskets  obviously  crammed  with  valu- 
ables, and  some  conveying  ostentatiously  costly  garments, 
and  then  borne  high  by  her  eight  slaves  in  light  red  livery 
comes  a  great  lady  herself  —  an  ex-consul's  wife,  the  multi- 
millionaire Faustina. 

19.  A  Great  Lady  Traveling.  —  "Her  Magnificence" 
(Clarissima)  also  leans  back  on  her  cushions  with  a  studied 
attitude  of  indifference  and  boredom,  letting  the  whole 

1  If  a  praetor  had  been  acting  as  governor,  he  would  probably  have  had 
six  lictors  instead  of  merely  two  while  he  was  a  judge  in  Rome. 

A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

street  take  in  the  silky  sheen  of  her  embroidered  mantle, 
the  gem-set  handle  of  her  ostrich  fan,  the  gold  dust  that  her 
maids  have  sprinkled  on  her  tall  pile  of  brown  hair,  and  the 
great  pearls  that  shed  luster  from  her  ears,  neck,  and  every 
finger.  She  is  merely  making  one  of  her  incessant  pilgrim- 
ages between  her  Viminal  palace  and  some  one  of  her  ten 
country  villas.  She  would  feel  disgraced  to  travel  with  less 
than  about  two  hundred  slaves  and  freedmen.  Very  likely 
her  grandfather  was  a  freedman  himself ;  what  matter  ?  — 
official  rank  yields  to  the  conquering  flash  of  gold. 

Fundinus's  lictors  lower  their  fasces ;  his  litter  is  set  down 
hastily.  As  the  trains  meet  the  great  man  hastens  to  the 
side  of  the  greater  matrona.  Faustina  is  evidently  in  a  gra- 
cious mood.  She  is  seen  to  flip  the  praetor's  face  daintily 
with  her  fan.  The  magistrate  climbs  back  to  his  own  litter 
smilingly  —  perhaps  he  has  been  bidden  to  an  ultra-select 
house  party  at  Tusculum.  The  two  trains  of  attendants 
elbow  past  each  other,  and  the  street  resumes  its  plebeian 

20.  Public  Salutations:  the  Kissing  Habit.  —  As  the 
crowds  thin  a  little,  so  that  the  types  and  faces  are  more 
easily  seen,  several  things  become  noticeable.  First  the  salu- 
tations —  there  are  surely  advantages  in  being  borne  high  in 
a  litter.  No  person  in  good  clothes  can  proceed  far  without 
being  incessantly  beset  with  greetings.  Everybody  seems  to 
know  everybody  else.  It  is  polite  to  cry  Ave  !  ("  Hail  ")  or 
Solve!  ("  I  hope  you're  well ")  to  persons  of  the  scantiest 
acquaintance,  and  then,  when  they  return  your  salute,  if 
there  is  nothing  more  to  add,  Vale!  ("  Good  luck  "). 

More  serious,  however,  is  the  incessant  kissing.  A  sedate 
old  gentleman  with  a  narrow  purple  stripe  on  his  tunic  (the 
token  of  the  "  equestrian  "  rank)  appears  followed  by  two 
spruce  slave  boys.  A  nondescript  fellow  immediately  pushes 
up  to  him,  seizes  his  hand,  then  smacks  him  roundly  on  the 

Streets  and  Street  Life  27 

cheek.  Doubtless  the  rascal's  lips  are  foul  and  his  breath 
charged  with  garlic;  it  is  nevertheless  most  discourteous 
for  the  older  man  to  resent  it.  There  is  no  escaping  the  in- 
cessant attacks,  unless  you  can  have  a  litter,  and  the  poet 
Martial  has  vainly  complained  of  acquaintances  who  insisted 
on  kissing  him  in  December  "  when  round  his  nose  hangs  a 
veritable  icicle/'  Even  the  Emperor  has  to  submit  to  the 
usage,  although  the  privilege  is  confined  to  that  envied  and 
exalted  circle  known  as  "  Caesar's  friends," 

21.  The  Swarms  of  Idlers  and  Parasites.  —  Another  thing 
becomes  obvious  after  a  short  scrutiny  —  the  vast  number  qf 
idlers.  People  are  incessantly  lounging  up  and  down  the 
street  manifestly  with  nothing  important  to  do.  Hard 
work  and  common  trade  are,  as  later  explained  (see  p.  146), 
by  no  means  genteel;  and  many  a  Roman  who  possesses 
merely  a  threadbare  toga  and  has  his  name  on  the  list  for 
corn  doles  prefers  living  by  his  wits  in  busy  idleness,  fawning 
on  the  great,  and  hunting  dinner  invitations  to  doing  a  stroke 
of  honest  labor. 

Most  of  the  idlers  nevertheless  are  slaves.  In  the  vast 
familia  of  the  palaces  the  tasks  are  all  so  subdivided  that  the 
average  slave  has  far  too  much  time  on  his  hands.  He 
puts  in  many  hours,  therefore,  wandering  about  the  sights 
of  the  city,  gaming,  following  coarse  love  affairs,  and  seeking 
tips  on  the  circus  and  amphitheater  contests.  The  amount 
of  worthless  chatter  is  infinite.  Even  at  this  early  hour  from 
the  tables  of  a  wine-shop  comes  the  rattle  of  dice  boxes. 
Another  dirty  group  is  actually  throwing  dice  on  the  pave- 
ment under  pedestrian's  heels.  The  law  nominally  forbids 
open  gaming,  but  the  police  are  very  busy  men.  Rome,  one 
discovers  thus  promptly,  is  all  too  much  a  city  of  "  parasites." 
By  exploiting  the  world,  she  is  able  to  maintain  a  horde  of 
human  bipeds,  bond  or  free,  who  minister  nothing  to  her 


A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

The  gamesters  on  the  pavement  halt,  however,  instantly, 
when  a  tumult  arises  from  a  neighboring  vintner's  stall. 
A  Spanish  boy  has  tried  to  steal  a  jar  of  fine  old  Massic, 
but  the  vessel  has  been  wisely  fastened  to  a  pillar  with  a 
chain.  While  he  tugs  to  break  this  the  dealer  spots  him  : 
"  Stop  thief  !  "  rises  the  cry.  Instantly  appear  two  broad- 
shouldered  men,  in  half  armor  with  small  steel  caps.  They 
carry  stout  poles  tipped  with  strong  hooks  useful  in  fires. 

These  are  vigiles 
(police-firemen)  of  the 
city  watch.  The  thief 
is  seized  and  hustled 
off  howling  and  pro- 
testing, to  tell  his  trou- 
bles at  the  court  of  the 
City  Praefect.  Before 
the  players  can  resume, 
they  have  to  stand 
aside  also  for  a  funeral 
procession  —  flute  play- 
ers,  professional 
mourners  screaming 
and  g^^ulating,  man- 
umitted slaves  of  the 


deceased  wearing  liberty  caps,  mourning  relatives  around 
the  bier;  all  headed  for  the  cremation-pyre  outside  the 

22.  Public  Placards  and  Notices.  —  Just  as  the  dice  are 
about  to  rattle  again  a  shrewd-looking  fellow  with  a  piece  of 
red  chalk  is  seen  stepping  up  to  a  space  of  blank  wall.  "  Celer, 
the  notice  writer,"  whispers  everybody.  A  large  crowd 
elbows  and  gathers  around  him,  as  to  general  delight,  with 
quick  strokes  he  letters  the  following  announcement  of  a 
gladiator  fight  : 

Streets  and  Street  Life  29 


From  the  12th  to  the  15th  of  May 




Who  Has  Fought  Three  Times  Will  Meet 




And  The  Same  Number  of  Fights 



Who  Has  Fought  Eight  Times 




And  of  Fourteen  Fights 

Awnings  will  be  provided  against  the  sun 

"  Euge!  Euge!  Bravo,  Balbus !  "  cry  the  expectant  idlers 
as  they  go  back  to  their  game,  and  Celer  hurries  off  to  repeat 
his  notice  on  some  wall  in  the  next  street. 

The  dice  contest  can  be  omitted.  Not  so  with  the  wall 
inscriptions  which  we  now  discover  are  scattered  over  almost 

30  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

every  space  of  available  stucco  along  the  thoroughfare. 
Some  are  formal  notices  of  games,  articles  for  sale,  auctions, 
tenements  to  let,  etc.,  written  with  some  skill,  although  with 
many  puzzling  abbreviations,  by  professional  sign-writers 
like  Celer.  Thus  on  one  building  can  be  read  in  tall  red 
letters:  "  To  rent,  from  the  first  of  July,  shops  with  the 
floors  above  them  and  a  house  in  the  Arrius  Pollio  block,  owned 
by  Nigidius  Mains.  Prospective  lessees  may  apply  to  Primus 
his  slave,"  and  another  sign  advertises  the  "  Venus  baths, 
fitted  up  for  the  best  people,  shops,  rooms  over  shops  and  second 
story  apartments,  in  the  property  owned  by  Julia  Felix"  l 

23.  Wall  Scribblings.  —  More  interesting  really  are  the 
wall  scribblings  of  the  humble.  "  The  walls  were  the  writing 
paper  of  the  poor,"  will  be  declared  later  by  students  of 
Rome.  All  kinds  of  sentiments  are  scratched  upon  the 
stucco ;  sometimes  with  considerable  care  with  a  stylus ; 
sometimes  with  merely  a  finger  nail ;  sometimes  drawn  with 
charcoal  or  a  red  crayon.  There  are  indeed  so  many  writings, 
especially  in  frequented  places,  that  we  notice  a  wag  has  ac- 
tually added  a  word  of  protest : 

I  wonder  0  wall, 
That  your  stones  do  not  fall 
All  scribbled  thus  o'er 
By  the  nonsense  of  all ! 

Every  kind  of  opinion  is  to  be  found  along  a  limited 
stretch  of  wall.  Coarse  insults  abound  where  your  enemy 
can  promptly  see  them :  "  Vile  wretch,"  "  Bold  rascal," 
"  Old  fool,"  "  I  hope  you'll  die !  "  "  May  you  be  crucified !  " 
—  these  are  merely  the  mildest.  Then  other  sentiments  are 
more  friendly :  "  Luck  to  you  I  "  "  Good  health  to  you 
everywhere  I  "  "A  Happy  New  Year  and  a  lot  of  them," 

1  The  wall  placards  and  inscriptions  quoted  in  this  and  the  following 
section  are  all  substantially  as  found  at  Pompeii. 

Streets  and  Street  Life  31 

and  "  What  wouldn't  I  do  for  you,  dear  eyes  of  Luscus" 
(the  names  of  the  enemy  or  friend  involved-  being  often 

Lovers  also  take  up  their  tale.  A  girl  records  her  frank 
opinion :  "  Virgula  to  her  dear  Tertius  —  You  are  mighty 
mean."  A  penitent  swain  spreads  forth  this  "  personal  " 
to  his  mistress  :  "  Do  have  pity  on  me  and  let  me  come  back.'* 
A  young  lady  announces  tartly :  "  Where  Verus  is  there's 
nothing  veracious"  (a  pun  on  words).  A  gay  philanderer  ex- 
plains, "  A  blonde  girl  taught  me  to  hate  brunettes,  and  I 
will  hate  them  if  I  can  —  but  loving  them  would  come,  so 
much  easier !  "  And  another  youth  demands  passionately : 
"  My  dear  Sava,  please  do  love  me !  "  While  finally  a  jeal- 
ous suitor  has  broken  into  verse : 

If  any  man  shall  seek 
My  girl  from  me  to  turn, 
On  far-off  mountains  bleak, 
May  Love  the  scoundrel  burn ! 

The  prosing  moralist  must  likewise  have  his  say.  Some- 
body has  sagely  scribbled,  "  A  trifling  ailment  if  neglected 
can  grow  to  be  very  serious."  There  are  in  addition  conun- 
drums and  children's  sketches  —  pictures  of  playmates, 
friends,  foes,  and  especially  of  popular  gladiators,  marked 
with  red  ochre  or  charcoal,  and  sometimes  limned  with  con- 
siderable vigor,  but  usually  in  the  manner  of  the  childish 
drawings  in  all  ages,  with  forehead  and  nose  marked  by 
a  line  and  with  two  dots  serving  for  eyes.  School  boys 
have  scratched  down  some  of  the  verses  in  Vergil  and 
Ovid  that  have  just  been  flogged  into  them  by  their 

The  only  thing  we  can  miss  in  Rome  are  the  election  no- 
tices which  would  abound  on  the  walls  of  all  chartered  pro- 
vincial or  free  Italian  cities,  entreating  us  to  vote  for  so- 

32  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

and-so  for  duumvir  "  he's  a  good  man  "  ;  or  declaring  that 

"  all  the  fullers'  guild  are  out  for as  aedile."  1  Rome, 

alas !  has  lost  her  liberty ;  the  city  is  paternally  governed 
by  the  Emperor  aided  by  the  Senate,  and  popular  elections 
are  a  thing  of  the  past. 

24.  The  Streets  Dark  and  Dangerous  at  Night.  —  One  is 
warned,  however,  not  to  tax  the  patience  of  the  adjacent 
shopkeepers  and  linger  too  long  in  this  street.  Written  above 
a  drug  seller's  stand  appears  clearly,  "  No  idlers  here!  Move 
on  you  loungers!  "  and  a  little  distance  along  upon  a  wall, 
"Here  you!  What  are  you  loitering  for  ?"  Indeed  the  pass- 
ing throngs  are  becoming  somewhat  monotonous.  The  hurly- 
burly  abates.  About  noon  almost  everybody  will  take  first 
a  fairly  hearty  luncheon,  and  then  a  siesta.  Nearly  every 
shop  will  be  closed.  Then  the  bustle  will  be  resumed  while 
the  more  genteel  element  will  be  seen  headed  in  great 
numbers  towards  the  public  baths. 

By  four  o'clock,  however,  the  shops  will  be  closing  behind 
heavy  shutters,  the  clamor  from  the  work  rooms  will  cease, 
and  even  the  humble  will  begin  to  prepare  for  the  crowning 
event  of  a  Roman's  day  —  dinner,  often  begun  still  earlier. 
After  sundown  the  silence  almost  of  the  grave  shuts  down 
upon  avenues  which  a  few  hours  earlier  were  simply  swarming 
with  life.  There  are  no  street  lights.  Nobody  stirs  out- 
doors if  possible,  unless  accompanied  by  friends  or  slaves  with 
lanterns  or  torches ;  and  it  is  no  harm  to  carry  heavy  bludge- 
ons, for  despite  the  watch  there  are  all  too  many  sneak  thieves, 
cutpurses,  and  even  open  bandits,  "  dagger  men  "  (siccarii), 
with  their  "  your  money  or  your  life."  Also  lawless  young 
nobles  sometimes  get  an  evil  pleasure  (as  did  Nero  and  his 
companions)  by  ranging  the  streets  and  beating  up  harmless 
and  poorly  guarded  citizens. 

1  For  quotations  of  election  notices  at  Pompeii  see  the  author's  "  Read- 
ings in  Ancient  History,"  Vol.  II,  "Rome,"  pp.  261-262. 

Streets  and  Street  Life  33 

26.  Discomforts  of  Life  in  Rome.  —  People  also  tell  you 
that  at  night  there  is  no  small  peril  of  being  brained  by  loose 
tiles  which  rattle  down  from  the  lofty  house-tops,  or  less 
dangerous  but  most  disgusting,  of  being  drenched  by  buckets 
of  filthy  slops  flung  recklessly  from  upper  windows  into  the 
streets.  Then  toward  dawn  your  sleep  is  ruined  by  the 
incessant  rumbling  of  the  wagcns  with  timber,  brick,  building 
stone,  cement,  and  all  kinds  of  food  supplies  which  have  to  be 
excluded  from  the  city  in  the  day  hours.  These  are  all  part 
of  the  general  discomforts  of  life  in  Rome,  along  with  the 
squalid  flat-buildings,  the  peril  from  the  collapse  of  rickety 
houses,  the  occasional  great  floods  of  the  Tiber,  the  fearful 
conflagrations,  the  ubiquitous  throngs  of  people,  and  the 
grievous  absence  of  privacy. 

The  complaints  are  incessant.  "  School  masters  in  the 
morning;  corn  grinders  at  night;  and  braziers'  hammers 
day  and  night  "  are  subjects  for  standard  diatribes  of  poets 
like  Martial  and  JuvenaL  And  they,  like  everybody,  first 
praise  the  quiet  simple  life  possible  in  the  Italian  country 
towns  —  and  then  they  remain  in  Rome.  The  great  city 
with  its  multitudes,  its  ceaseless  variety  of  all  things  good 
and  bad,  its  appeal  to  every  kind  of  human  interest  holds 
them  with  so  many  other  mortals  fascinated.  They  are 
unhappy  while  in  Rome;  but  still  more  unhappy  until 
they  can  return  to  her. 

So  much  for  the  merely  outwqjd  side  of  a  typical  street  on 
the  slopes  of  the  Esquiline.  We  can  now  penetrate  the  homes 
of  the  people,  first  visiting  an  insula,  a  great  tenement  block 
of  the  lowly,  and  then  investigating  a  more  elegant  domiw, 
the  residence  of  a  magnate. 


26.  The  Great  Insulae  —  Tenement  Blocks.  —  Per- 
haps another  age  will  imagine  that  most  Romans  have  lived 
in  vast  marble  palaces,  moving  through  spacious  halls  amid 
stately  pillars  and  spraying  fountains.  Nothing  like  this 
is  the  case  for  the  great  majority.  A  census  report  declares 
"  there  are  some  44,000  tenement  blocks  (insulce)  in  the 
city  and  only  about  175*0  separate  '  mansions  '  (domus)"1 
Such  figures  can  merely  imply  that  an  overwhelming  pro- 
portion of  "  the  toga-wearing  race,  the  Lords  of  the  world  " 
(to  quote  Virgil's  threadbare  line)  are  flat-dwellers. 

Considering  the  extreme  congestion  of  population,  no  other 
solution  than  this  is  possible  if  Rome  is  to  remain  Rome. 
There  is  a  great  profit  in  building  these  huge,  ungainly 
"  islands,"  the  tenement  blocks.  Everywhere  around  the  city 
we  meet  the  gangs  of  laborers  mixing  the  concrete  whereof 
the  structures  are  mostly  constructed,  or  setting  the  wooden 
molds  to  shape  the  material  as  it  solidifies ;  or  else  tearing 
down  and  carting  away  the  wreckage  of  insulse  that  have 
begun  to  decay.  Such  property  employs  a  great  amount 
of  capital.  Nearly  every  senator  has  his  men  of  business 
caring  for  his  housing  investments  and  rentals,  and  the 
"  realtor  "  is  a  very  familiar  personage. 

Rightly  is  it  complained  also  that  many  insulse  are  put 
up  in  a  cheap  and  absolutely  dangerous  manner,  and  at 

1  These  figures  seem  to  come  from  the  fourth  century,  but  there  is  no 
reason  to  think  that  housing  conditions  in  Rome  had  changed  very 
much  since  the  second  century. 


Roman  Homes  35 

best  are  dark,  dirty,  and  unsanitary.  The  very  name  implies 
that  they  should  be  built  with  a  free  space  all  around  them. 
The  old  law  of  Twelve  Tables  (450  B.C.)  required  a  passage 
way  (ambitus)  of  at  least  two  and  a  half  feet  on  either  side, 
but  this  law  was  recklessly  disregarded  until  the  great  fire 
of  Nero  enabled  the  government  to  enforce  a  fairly  scientific 
building  code.  Even  now,  however,  the  tenement  houses  are 
often  hemmed  in  on  all  sides  by  miserable  black  alleys  hardly 
accessible  to  the  public  scavengers. 

This  struggle  to  use  every  scrap  of  ground  is  completely 
matched  by  the  effort  to  build  as  high  as  possible.  "  The 
immense  size  of  Rome,"  wrote  Vitruvius,  about  1  A.D., 
"  makes  it  needful  to  have  a  vast  number  of  habitations, 
and  as  the  area  is  not  sufficient  to  contain  them  all  on  the 
ground  floor,  the  nature  of  the  case  compels  us  to  raise 
them  in  the  air." 

There  are  no  passenger  elevators  in  Rome;  furthermore, 
the  concrete  construction  does  not  permit  the  safe  erection 
of  extremely  high  buildings  without  unusual  precautions, 
and  with  such  narrow  streets  tall  structures  obstruct  both 
light  and  air ;  nevertheless,  the  real  estate  interests  grumbled 
loudly  when  Augustus  limited  the  height  of  dwellings  to 
seventy  feet.  Hadrian  has  just  vexed  them  still  more  by  a 
decree  that  if  an  owner  allows  his  insula  to  fall  into  danger- 
ous repair,  he  must  either  sell  it,  or  rebuild  it  thoroughly. 
For  all  that,  many  insulse  seem  to  be  towering  rookeries, 
ready  to  collapse  at  any  flood  or  earthquake. 

27.  A  Typical  Insula.  —  Upon  Mercury  Street,  which  we 
have  just  examined,  stands  a  very  average  insula,  built 
about  forty  years  ago,  and,  therefore,  loyally  named  the 
F lama  Victoria  for  the  then  reigning  dynasty.  It  belongs 
to  the  widow  of  the  rich  eques  Gaius  Macer,  and  is  managed 
by  the  lynx-eyed  procurator,  or  bailiff,  who  superintends 
her  estate.  Despite  the  fact  that  it  is  safer  than  some  of 

A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

its  neighbors,  the  tenants  complain  on  rent  days  that  the 
upper  stories  are  built  so  largely  of  wood  as  to  be  in  peril 
of  fire,  and  that  one  of  the  outer  walls  is  so  cracked  that  it 
has  to  be  propped  up  with  heavy  timbers. 

The  Flavia  Victoria  is  just  under  the  legal  building  height, 
and  contains  five  stories.  On  the  street  there  are  several 
shops  of  the  usual  kind,  also  several  separate  entrances 
whereof  the  doorways,  flanked  with  pillars,  give  access  to 
certain  extra-select  flats  above ;  but  most  of  the  tenants  have 
to  go  in  through  the  central  portal  under  the  eyes  of  a  porter. 

Upon  entering  they  find  themselves  in  a  f airly  ample  square 
court,  upon  which  open  many  windows  of  the  tiers  of  rooms  in 
the  upper  stories.  There  is  a  fountain  in  the  court,  but  the 
pavement  below  is  decidedly  slimy  and  dirty.  Quantities 
of  half-naked  small  children  are  scampering  about  in  noisy 
play.  The  windows,  however,  like  those  facing  upon  the 
streets,  often  have  balconies  on  which  simple  boxes  of  flowers 
are  blooming.  The  blue  Italian  sky  above  and  the  bars 
of  intense  sunlight  upon  the  flag-stones  make  the  filthiness 
of  the  court  and  the  dinginess  of  the  yellow  stuccoed  walls 
less  obnoxious/  Dirt  and  even  the  numerous  fleas  lose 
part  of  their  terrors  amid  picturesque  surroundings  in  a 
mild  climate. 

28.  The  Flats  in  an  Insula.  —  From  the  courtyard  several 
staircases,  often  dark  and  dank,  rise  to  the  tenements  above. 
The  Flama  Victoria  is  a  fair-sized  insula,  and  just  as  in  Euro- 
pean flat  buildings  later,  can  contain  many  social  strata  under 
one  ample  roof.  In  the  apartments  on  the  first  floor,  there 
are  really  comfortable  suites,  each  with  a  series  of  rooms  — 
living  room  (atrium),  dining  room,  kitchen,  bedrooms,  and 
the  like,  chambers  not  large  indeed,  but  sufficient  for  a  modest 
household  keeping  perhaps  ten  slaves.  The  walls  are 
covered  with  bright  frescoes,  and  the  floors  with  very  fair 
mosaics.  Such  a  superior  apartment  can  bring  some  10,000 

Roman  Homes  37 

sesterces  ($400)  per  year,  and  a  good  many  flats  rent  for 
even  more.1 

The  rentals  fall  rapidly  as  the  tenants  scale  higher.  In 
the  second  floor  the  apartments  are  much  smaller ;  there  is 
merely  a  living  room  and  a  few  smaller  chambers.  The 
appointments  are  correspondingly  mean  and  dingy,  while  the 
annual  rent  is  only  2000  sesterces  ($80) ;  and  between  the 
prosperous  grain  factor  on  the  third  floor  and  the  hardwork- 
ing brickyard  superintendent  on  the  fourth  there  is  never  the 
least  sociability. 

29.  The  Cheap  Attic  Tenements  and  Their  Poor  Occupants. 
—  Both  unite,  however,  in  despising  the  wretched  creatures 
who  plod  wearily  up  to  the  dirty,  vermin-infested  sleeping 
pockets  upon  the  fifth  or  sixth  stages,  where,  under  the  roof 
tiles,  the  hot  sun  beats  pitilessly.  If  we  care  to  thrust  our- 
selves into  the  tiny  chambers  of  the  unfortunate  Codrus, 
the  bath  attendant,  we  will  find,  perhaps  "  a  bed  too  small 
for  the  dwarf  Procula,  a  marble  slab  whereon  are  set  six  small 
food  jars  and  a  small  drinking  cup,  a  statue  of  Chiron  [some 
decaying  heirloom],  and  an  old  chest  of  Greek  books  gnawed 
by  the  unlettered  mice."2 

Vainly  do  Codrus  and  his  wife  complain  to  the  bailiff  that 
the  roof  is  collapsing  over  them.  He  merely  laughs  and  bids 
them  "  sleep  at  ease,"  although  a  deadly  crash  is  threatened 
any  night.  They  have  another  peril,  because  fire  may  at 
any  time  break  out  in  Ucalegon's  flat  below  and  leave  them 
cut  off,  possibly  while  in  their  beds,  and  with  no  chance  of 
escape  after  the  alarm  spreads. 

Such  poor  tenants  never  stay  in  one  place  long.  Rome  is 
a  city  of  inveterate  flat-hunters.  The  first  of  July  (the 

1  Rentals  in  Rome,  for  all  classes  of  lodgings,  were  unreasonably  high, 
as  compared  with  the  relative  cost  of  other  necessities :  just  as  is  now 
complained  to  be  the  case  in  New  York,  Paris,  and  other  great  cities. 

1 A  familiar  description  of  such  a  place  by  Juvenal. 

A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

Calends)  is  the  regular  moving  day.  Every  tenant  who  can- 
not or  will  not  pay  his  rent,  has  to  go  forth  seeking  even 
cheaper  and  more  squalid  quarters.  There  are  endless  family 
processions  bearing  off  the  few  poor  chattels.  The  satirists 
make  ungenerous  fun  of  their  plight,  telling  how  a  wretched 
man  has  to  march  away  followed  by  "  his  carroty-headed 
wife,  his  white-haired  mother  and  his  giantess  of  a  sister." 
Between  them  they  carry  off  "  a  three-legged  bed,  a  two- 
footed  table,  a  lamp,  a  horn-cup,  a  rusty  brazier,  some  cracked 
dishes,  some  jars  of  very  stale  pickled  fish,"  also  a  supply  of 


cheese  and  onions,  and  "  a  pot  of  resin  belonging  to  the  poor 
fellow's  mother  and  used  by  the  beldame  for  anointing  her- 

Such  luckless  plebeians,  of  course,  may  delude  some  house 
agent  in  a  distant  part  of  the  city  into'  giving  them  a  dark 
garret  in  the  vain  hope  that  they  can  pay  their  rent ;  "  but 
really,"  —  says  the  bailiff  with  a  shrug,  "  they  belong  at  the 
Arieine  bridge  —  the  haunt  of  the  beggars." 

Unfortunately  a  large  fraction  of  Rome  is  little  better  off 
than  this.  Poverty  stalks  everywhere.  There  are  plenty 
of  fetid  insulse  which  do  not  contain  a  single  family  that 
can  be  sure  of  next  week's  dinners.  Nevertheless  there  are 

Roman  Homes  39 

mitigations;  as  will  be  seen,  the  government  takes  great 
pains  that  in  Rome  nobody  will  actually  starve ;  and  again, 
there  are  so  many  free  circuses  and  gladiatorial  shows  that  a 
man  has  abundant  diversion  from  his  troubles.  There  is  a 
magnificent  water  supply,  and  the  kind  Italian  sun  pre- 
vents heavy  fuel  bills.  Poverty,  therefore,  does  not  imply 
the  acute  misery  which  it  does  in  the  North. 

Nevertheless,  the  most  fortunate  insula  dweller  probably 
dreams  of  the  day  when  he  can  crown  his  inevitable  ambition. 
"  When  can  I  cease  to  live  in  a  cenacula  (flat)  and  live  in  a 

30.  A  Senatorial  "  Mansion  "  (Domus).  —  Publius  Junius 
Calvus  is  a  senator  of  ancient  lineage,  whose  domus  lifts  itself 
arrogantly  near  the  summit  of  the  Esquiline,  at  the  head  of 
Mercury  Street,  looking  down  upon  the  tiles  of  the  humble 
insula  Flavia  Victoria. 

Calvus,  although  a  member  of  the  upper  aristocracy,  is 
not  extraordinarily  wealthy.  He  does  not,  like  some  of  his 
friends,  possess  simultaneously  three  large  city  houses,  often 
moving  from  one  to  another  according  to  season  and  mood. 
He  has  only  four  country  villas,  one  far  in  the  North  by  the 
Italian  lakes,  one  in  the  Etruscan  hills,  one  fairly  close  to 
Rome,  and  a  fourth  on  the  delightful  Bay  of  Naples.  His 
city  residence  is  inferior  in  magnificence  not  merely  to  those 
of  many  senators  but  even  of  many  equites  (second-class 
nobles)  and  of  a  whole  cohort  of  rich,  upstart  freedmen. 
Nevertheless,  it  is  a  fine  mansion,  which  has  been  in  the  Cal- 
vian  family  for  many  generations,  and  it  is  crammed  with 
treasured  heirlooms.  Calvus,  unlike  certain  noble  col- 

1  In  small  provincial  cities  like  Pompeii  the  proportion  of  the  people 
who  could  live  in  separate  houses  was  much  greater  than  in  Rome ;  in 
fact  separate  residences  were  somewhat  the  rule.  The  Pompeiian 
houses  were  usually  of  two  stories  and  nearly  all  were  decidedly  small. 
In  Rome  itself  real  estate  was  far  too  valuable  to  permit  separate  houses 
except  for  the  wealthy. 

40  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

leagues,  is  happily  married  and  rejoices  in  two  half -grown  sons 
and  a  daughter.  For  them  a  familia  of  only  one  hundred 
and  fifty  slaves  suffices,  although  the  noble  Gratia  sometimes 
complains  to  her  husband :  "  Our  staff  is  disgracefully  small." 

The  Calvi  are  really  an  extremely  old  family  in  what  is 
now  becoming  a  city  of  upstarts.  Publius's  forebears  have 
lived  for  centuries  on  the  Esquiline  and  their  domus  has  been 
rebuilt  many  times.  In  Punic  War  days  it  probably  consisted 
only  of  a  central  atrium,  with  an  opening  in  the  ceiling  to 
admit  light  and  emit  smoke,  and  a  few  dark  cell-like  chambers 
radiating  from  the  great  living  room.  This  hall  rightly  re- 
ceived its  name  of  the  "  black  place  "  (ater)  from  the  soot 
from  the  open  hearth  which  was  perpetually  caked  around 
the  rafters.  The  walls  were  of  rubble,  the  floor  of  simple 
tiles  or  even  merely  of  pounded  earth,  and  the  roof  was  of 
thatch.  Such  a  house  could  stow  away  the  many  children 
and  the  relatively  few  servants  of  a  senator  who  helped  to 
humiliate  Carthage. 

31.  The  Plan  of  a  Large  Residence.  —  Very  different  is 
the  domus  now  as  we  approach  the  lofty  Ionic  pillars  before 
its  portal,  nevertheless,  the  plan  of  the  old  house  has  not  quite 
vanished  in  the  stately  mansion.  The  Roman  house  is 
always  (like  the  Greek)  essentially  the  typical  southern  dwell- 
ing built  around  courts,  and  getting  its  light  thence,  and  with 
little  dependence  upon  exterior  windows.  What  has  hap- 
pened now  is  that  the  old  living  room  has  expanded  into  a 
magnificent  light-bathed  hall,  with  the  sun  streaming  not 
through  a  smoke-hole  but  an  ample  opening.  The  rooms 
leading  from  this  court  have  multiplied  in  number  and  vastly 
increased  in  size.  Then  through  a  series  of  passages  one 
enters  a  second  court  even  larger  and  handsomer,  and 
with  another  array  of  dependent  chambers. 

In  such  a  house  the  main  apartments  are  on  the  first  floor, 
but  there  is  a  second  story  for  the  lodging  of  the  retinues  of 

Roman  Homes 


slaves.  In  the  rear  of  all  there  is  usually  a  garden.  Every 
domus  has  its  own  particular  plan  and  pretentions  but  all 
conform  to  the  general  scheme  of  two  main  courts,  just  as 
almost  every  house  of  another  civilization  will  demand  its 
parlor  and  its  dining  room. 

Calvus's  mansion  is  priced  by  the  real  estate  experts  at 
about  3,500,000  sesterces  (say  $140,000)  j1    but  there  are 

present  condition. 

not  a  few  houses  of  richer  senators  worth  four  times  as  much. 
The  structure  faces  a  street  which  is  reasonably  clear  of  shops 
and  where  all  the  neighbors  are  at  least  equites  or  else  very 
wealthy  freedmen.  The  building  does  not  rise  as  high  as 
an  insula ;  in  fact  it  possesses  only  two  stories :  the  first 

1  That  was  the  price  that  Cicero  paid  for  his  town  house,  at  a  time 
when  Roman  real  estate  was  worth  probably  much  less  than  in  the  days 
of  Hadrian. 

42  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

broken  by  mere  peepholes  in  the  solid  stuccoed  walls,  the 
second  by  larger  windows  all  heavily  grated.  One  can  guess 
part  of  the  reason  for  these  bars  from  a  placard  hanging  in 
the  entrance : 


32.  Entrance  to  the  Residence.  —  The  entrance  itself,  how- 
ever, is  handsome.    The  columns  on  either  side  are  of  fine 
Luna  marble.     Pass  between  these,  and  you  enter  a  vestibule, 
a  considerable  outer  chamber  with  fine  pilasters  let  into  the 
walls,  where  at  this  moment  a  swarm  of  the  Senator's  clients 
are  mustering.     Then  you  approach  the  actual  doors  of  the 
ostium.    These  stand  open  but  every  passer  is  being  scru- 
tinized, and  if  questionable,  is  stopped  by  a  janitor,  a  highly 
responsible  slave,  who  has  a  seat  just  inside.     Many  a  janitor 
is  supported  in  his  duty  by  a  surly  dog,  but  here  there  is 
merely  a  life-like  mosaic  creature,  wrought  in  the  tiles  of  the 
pavement,  with  CAVE  CANEM  ("  Beware  the  dog  ")  written 
beneath  him.    Overhead  in  a  gilt  cage  however  is  swinging 
a  tame  magpie,  and  the  creature  croaks  out  his  "  Salve! 
Salve!  "  as  the  guests  press  into  the  atrium. 

33.  The  Atrium  and  the  View  across  It.  —  The  moment 
we  are  inside  the  transformation  of  scene  from  the  dusty, 
dingy  street  is  startling.     If  other  persons  do  not  obstruct 
the  view,  you  can  see  clear  down  the  long  vistas  of  the  house 
from  the  entrance  to  the  greenery  of  the  garden.     Before 
us  is  the  atrium,  a  magnificent  court,  paved  with  elaborate 
mosaics,  and  with  four  elegant  Corinthian  columns  in  pink 
marble  upholding  the  roof  around  a  wide  light- well.     Under 
this  light-well  is  a  complicated  fountain,  where  bronze  tritons 

Roman  Homes 


and  dancing  nymphs  are  shooting  great  jets  into  a  white 
marble  basin  in  which  grow  luxurious  water  plants.  On 
the  inner  sides  of  the  atrium,  and  on  either  of  the  numerous 
doors  opening  into  the 
same,  stand  statues, 
bronze  or  marble,  upon 
carved  stone  pedestals. 
Many  of  the  door- 
ways around  this  ele- 
gant hall  are  closed  by 
heavy  curtains,  of  rich 
saffron,  purple,  olivine, 
or  blue,  the  hues  being 
selected  to  blend  mar- 
velously  with  the  tints 
of  the  columns.  Where 
the  walls  are  not  a 
sheen  of  marble,  they 
are  spread  with  elab- 
orate and  wonderfully 
decorative  frescos  —  of 
which  more  hereafter. 
On  special  pedestals  of 
honor  are  fine  art  ob- 
jects, valuable  bric-a- 
brac,  tripods,  vases, 
silver  cups,  war  tro- 
phies. The  mosaics  on 



PLAN  OF  A  ROMAN   MANSION   (Domus): 
strictly  conventionalized. 

the  floor  (could  we  stop 
to  gaze)  are  more  beau- 
tiful than  any  carpet.  In  brilliant  jewel  work,  for  it  is  little 
else,  has  been  wrought  out  a  series  of  pictures  showing  the 
campaigns  of  Alexander.  There  is  another  series  giving  the 
legend  of  Perseus.  The  sunlight,  the  spray  from  the  foun- 


A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

tain,  the  sheen  of  the  marbles,  the  brilliance  of  the  frescos, 
all  combine  in  an  effect  that  is  dazzling. 

34.  The  Rooms  in  the  Rear  and  the  Peristylium.  —  But 
this  hall  is  merely  the  beginning,  not  the  end  of  the  domus. 
In  the  rear  of  the  atrium  there  is  the  master's  office,  the  tab- 
linum,  a  very  large  alcove,  a  handsome  apartment  where  he 

PERISTYLIUM  :  restored. 

will  receive  those  guests  who  are  come  strictly  on  business. 
This  and  the  atrium,  however,  are  merely  the  public  rooms  of 
the  house ;  the  real  living  rooms  are  beyond,  although,  by 
a  survival  of  old  custom,  the  symbolic  marriage  couch  of  the 
master  and  mistress  stands  on  a  back  wall  by  the  tablinum. 
The  heavy  curtains  have  been  swept  aside  from  the  broad 
passageways  (fauces)  which  lead  into  the  second  court  — 
the  peristylium. 
Here  the  atrium  is  duplicated  —  but  on  a  much  more  elab- 

Roman  Homes 


orate  scale.  There  is  another  column-girdled  court ;  but  the 
pillars  are  taller  and  of  an  exquisite  blue-veined  marble. 
A  huge  curtain  swings  on  its  cords  ready  for  expansion  as 
the  sun  grows  hot.  Beneath  the  light-opening,  there  is  not 
merely  a  second  fountain,  but  a  real  plat  of  greensward,  a 
viridarium,  with  a  bright  bed  of  rare  flowers  and  even  a  few 
tropical  plants.  There  is  another  phalanx  of  statues.  Under 


the  long  quadrangular  colonnades  around  the  court  are 
spread  out  deeply  upholstered  couches,  easy  chairs,  small 
tables,  and  other  appurtenances  for  luxurious  existence. 
The  ceilings  of  the  colonnades  and  of  the  rooms  leading  thence 
are  covered  with  metallic  fretwork  gilded  in  a  soft  sheen,  while 
the  intense  light  filters  down  gratefully  between  the  columns, 
and  sinks  to  a  pleasant  twilight  in  the  niches  and  nooks  in  the 
walls  of  the  peristylium. 

35.   The  Dining  Room  (Triclinium)  and   the   Chapel. — 
From  this  second  court  to  left  and  to  right  open  doors  which 


A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

lead  to  the  master's  and  mistress's  sleeping  chambers,  and 
those  of  their  children,  their  guests,  and  their  upper  servants. 
The  rooms  are  small,  but  are  always  daintily  frescoed. 

Far  more  important  than  these  chambers  is  the  great 
dining  room  (triclinium).  Calvus's  friends  tell  him  he  really 
ought  to  rebuild  his  residence  and  provide  a  special  "  summer 
dining  room  "  on  the  north  side  of  the  house,  and  a  warmer 

present  condition. 

"  winter  dining  room  "  on  the  south  side  as  in  all  the  newer 
mansions.1  However,  his  triclinium  is  very  handsome ;  with 
good  pilasters  of  Hymettus  marble,  fine  statuary,  sideboards 
loaded  with  rare  old  plate,  and  a  ceiling  fretted  with  ivory 
and  arranged  so  that  it  can  be  partly  opened  at  the  climax 
of  a  feast  to  drop  garlands  and  to  spray  down  unguents  upon 
the  guests. 

1  Petronius  represents  his  rich  upstart  Trimalchio  as  having  four 
ordinary  dining  rooms  and  also  a  special  second  story  dining  room. 

Roman  Homes  47 

In  the  rear  of  the  house  there  are  also  a  smaller  breakfast 
room,  and  a  special  hall  (oecus)  for  the  display  of  even  addi- 
tional art  objects,  likewise  a  library,  and  a  private  bathroom, 
both  to  be  described  later ;  while  in  the  rear  of  the  peristylium 
is  one  of  the  most  important  rooms  assuredly  in  the  entire 
mansion  —  the  kitchen  (culind),  where  Gratia's  proudest  pos- 
session, a  truly  superior  cook,  prepares  dinners  that  atone  for 
the  sorrowful  fact  that  "  we  have  only  one  dining  room." 

Off  the  peristylium,  too,  one  notes  what  amounts  to  a 
miniature  chapel.  Before  a  temple  front  composed  of  short 
columns  mounted  on  a  kind  of  table  are  set  several  little 
images  of  beautiful  fairy-like  creatures  of  both  sexes.  These 
are  the  family  lares,  the  honored  guardians  of  the  old  house  of 
the  Calvi.  Once  they  stood  in  the  atrium,  but  in  later  days 
although  withdrawn  to  the  more  private  peristylium,  they 
have  not  ceased  to  be  dear.  Calvus  discusses  with  his  phi- 
losopher friends,  "  Are  there  really  any  gods  ?  "  ;  but  he  never 
fails  to  cast  his  incense  night  and  morning  upon  the  small 
gilt  brazier  which  smokes  before  his  family  lares.  In  the 
kitchen,  also,  there  is  a  second  little  niche  and  still  other 
images  of  the  lares,  where  they  receive  bits  of  food  and  in- 
nocent prayers  from  all  the  servants  —  even  more  devotedly 
than  from  the  lordly  folk  in  the  peristylium. 

36.  The  Garden  and  the  Slaves'  Quarters.  —  Another 
passage  beside  the  kitchen  leads  us  into  what  can  be  just 
glimpsed  as  one  enters  the  atrium  —  the  rear  garden  set  in 
by  high  walls.  Land  is  too  valuable  in  Rome  for  Calvus  to 
permit  himself  much  more  than  a  short  graveled  walk  under  a 
few  fine  old  box  trees,  but  by  an  intensive  gardening  that 
another  age  might  style  "  Japanese  "  there  is  laid  out  a 
miniature  brooklet,  a  cascade  plunging  into  a  little  pool 
containing  tame  lampreys,  and  some  small  pines,  which 
have  been  forced  into  the  semblance  of  a  tiny  forest.  A 
broad  marble  seat  now  strewn  with  cushions,  a  good  statue 


A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

of  a  dancing  Pan,  the  rushing  music  of  the  water,  and  the 
breeze  rustling  the  foliage — all  these  make  the  tumultuous, 
squalid  street  and  the  dirty  garrets  of  the  Flavia  Victoria 
seem  very  far  away.  —  In  reality  they  are  barely  a  stone's 

throw  down  the  hill. 
Where  do  Calvus's 
slaves  keep  themselves  ? 
Undoubtedly  in  the 
very  cramped  barracks 
of  the  second  story,  a 
section  of  which  looks 
down  from  an  upper 
tier  of  columns  above 
the  court  of  the  peri- 
stylium.  Even  lordly 
Romans  spend  little 
time  in  their  chambers 
and  need  only  small 
bedrooms.  For  the 
slaves  there  is  ex- 
tremely little  accommo- 
dation ;  any  kind  of  a 
sleeping  pocket,  very 
truly  called  a  "cell" 
(cella)  will  answer, 
where  a  stool,  a  blanket, 
and  a  thin  mat  on  the  floor  suffice  for  all  save  the  upper 

Under  the  house  there  are  ordinary  cellars  for  the  storage 
of  provisions.  Somewhere,  too,  is  a  strong  room,  with  barred 
windows,  and  heavy  door,  and  inside,  fastened  upon  the  floor, 
a  set  of  stocks  and  manacles.  Lucky  is  the  day  when,  in  a 
slave-familia  of  this  size,  this  lockup  has  not  at  least  one 
backsliding  occupant, 


Roman  Homes  49 

37.  The  Floors  and  Windows.  —  Inquiring  about  certain 
details  of  such  a  mansion  we  discover  that  like  most  other 
Roman  houses,  it  is  built  of  concrete,  faced  with  brick  or 
coarse  stone  and  stucco,  and  then  with  as  many  interior 
surfaces  as  possible,  covered  with  slabs  of  marble  or  decora- 
tive frescos.  The  roof  is  of  brick  tiles ;  the  floors  in  the 
humbler  chambers,  where  mosaic  is  unnecessary,  are  partly 
of  concrete  and  partly  of  small  pieces  of  stone  and  tile  roughly 
fitted  together  and  then  pounded  down  by  a  rammer  (pavi- 
mentum).  Two  or  three  rooms  most  used  in  winter  have  a 
special  and  very  luxurious  device  —  part  of  their  floors  are 
made  of  hollow  tile  pipes,  and  through  these  hot  air  from  a 
furnace  can  be  forced  to  warm  them  precisely  as  is  done  at 
the  baths.1 

Little  thus  far  has  been  said  about  the  windows.  These 
open  mainly  upon  the  courts,  and  they  are  so  few  that  very 
many  rooms,  especially  those  used  by  the  slaves,  seem  dis- 
agreeably dark,  although  in  the  long,  hot  season  this  draw- 
back somewhat  vanishes.  Most  of  the  windows  are  closed 
merely  by  board  shutters  swinging  in  leaves,  and  rather 
handsomely  paneled ;  but  shutting  them  results  in  a  state  of 
artificial  night. 

For  certain  rooms  used  by  the  master  and  mistress  there  is 
a  much  better  arrangement.  Numbers  of  small  pieces  of 
glass  are  set  in  bronze  lattices  and  inserted  in  the  windows. 
Glass  cannot  be  made  that  is  strictly  transparent,  but  it  is 
highly  translucent.  Such  rooms  are  delightfully  illuminated 
all  day  long.  Certain  other  wealthy  houses  use  windows 
set  with  translucent  talc  (soft  magnesium  silicate),  but  these 
openings  are  hardly  as  satisfactory.  Glass  is  slowly  coming 

1  This  heating  by  hypocausts  was  used  much  more  in  Roman  villas 
in  Gaul,  the  Rhinelands,  and  Britain,  where  winters  were  severe,  than  in 
Italy.  In  Rome  itself  people  ordinarily  managed  to  shiver  through  the  rel- 
atively short  cold  spells  by  means  of  portable  charcoal  braziers,  placed  in 
the  more  important  rooms,  and  by  piling  upon  themselves  extra  tunics. 

50  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

into  general  use,  and  the  window  panes  will  improve  as  glass- 
makers  learn  how  to  blow  larger  sheets  and  to  make  their 
product  more  transparent. 

38.  Frescos,  Beautiful  and  Innumerable.  —  From  the 
house  itself  we  can  turn  to  its  ornamentation  and  furniture. 
The  use  of  marble  columns  and  of  great  slabs  of  marble 
veneer  has  been  repeatedly  mentioned.  Africa,  Egypt,  and 
Greece  as  well  as  Italy  have  been  ransacked  by  Roman  con- 
tractors for  their  treasures  of  stone.1  Even  this  private  man- 
sion of  the  Calvi  boasts  its  green  and  black  monolithic  pillars, 
as  well  as  its  ceiling  of  gilded  fretwork. 

Where  the  sheen  of  polished  marble  does  not  meet  the  eye 
almost  invariably  there  are  bright  fre.scos.  These  are  the 
Roman  wall  paper.  Even  in  the  poorest  insulse  we  have  met 
them,  cheap  hackneyed  things,  garish  in  color,  the  work  not 
of  artists  but  of  common  craftsmen.  Yet  most  of  even  these 
are  not  without  a  certain  decorative  beauty  and  their  number 
is  enormous.2  In  the  humble  tenements  the  pictures  often 
consist  of  pillars  painted  upon  the  walls,  with  gardens  and 
landscapes  represented  as  if  seen  between  the  portico,  so  the 
lodgers  may  have  the  pretence  of  looking  upon  the  greenery 
reserved  for  the  mighty. 

In  a  fine  domus,  however,  the  frescos,  infinite  in  number, 
often  approximate  real  works  of  art.  There  is  no  time  to  dis- 
cuss their  types  and  history ;  it  is  sufficient  to  say  the  deco- 
rative effect  is  amazingly  effective.  Some  rooms  have  their 
walls  covered  with  a  variety  of  bright  conceits  and  patterns, 

1  One  can  make  a  long  list  of  the  marbles  constantly  used  at  Rome : 
e.g.  white  marbles   from    Carrara,    Paros,    and    Pentelicos ;    crimson- 
streaked  from  Phrygia ;   orange-golden  from  Numidia ;   white  and  pale 
green  from  Carystos  ;  serpentine  from  Laconia ;   porphyry  from  Egypt, 

2  At  this  writing  the  number  of  wall  paintings  rescued  from  the  exca- 
vations of  Pompeii  runs  well  up  to  4000 ;   and  Pompeii  was  a  city  per- 
haps only  a  fortieth  the  size  of  Rome. 

Roman  Homes  51 

—  balconies,  perches,  tapestries  of  fruit  and  flowers,  garlanded 
columns  and  flying  sprites  and  maidens.  Another  room  has 
pictures  of  all  the  possible  handicrafts  and  trades ;  but  with 
cupids  working  the  forges  and  wine  presses,  or  chaffering  as 
merchants.  Gratia's  boudoir  is  full  of  amorous  scenes  of 
brides  adorning  themselves  and  of  lovers '  meetings.  In  the 
triclinium  there  are  elegant  pictures  of  still  life  —  fishes,  fruit, 
birds  ;  and  in  the  peristylium  and  atrium  are  elaborate  land- 
scapes, scenes  from  Greek  mythology,  and  a  series  of  pictures 
depicting  the  voyages  and  adventures  of  JEneas.1  There 
are  no  picture  frames,  but  a  skilful  use  of  colored  lines  and 
sometimes  of  a  painted  setting  of  columns  and  architectural 
pediments  makes  each  scene  stand  out  to  great  advantage. 

The  colors  of  all  these  frescos  are  very  brilliant  but  they 
are  never  painfully  crude.  Where  the  walls  are  not  cov- 
ered by  painting  or  marble  they  are  tinted  a  soft  brown  or 
gray ;  and  where  the  columns  are  not  of  naturally  shaded 
marble  they  also  are  gently  tinted  to  a  neutral  tone,  although 
the  lower  third  is  usually  painted  a  bright  red  or  yellow. 

The  numerous  statues  about  the  house  are  all  in  their  turn 
given  a  kind  of  flesh  color,  with  some  other  hue  laid  upon 
their  drapery.  Perhaps  in  the  open,  under  the  light  of  a 
northern  summer  these  features  would  appear  barbaric  and 
offensive ;  under  the  gentle  radiance  diffused  from  the  aper- 
tures of  the  atrium  and  the  peristylium  they  create  a  scene 
of  marvelous  beauty,  fascinating,  and  generally  restful  to 
the  eye. 

39.  The  Profusion  of  Statues  and  Art  Objects.  —  So  much 
for  the  wall  decorations,  and  we  must  turn  to  the  statues. 
The  mansion  seems  to  swarm  with  slaves,  yet  they  are  hardly 
more  numerous  than  the  sculptures  in  bronze  and  marble. 

1  Most  of  the  finer  scenes  in  Roman  frescos  seem  to  have  been  pretty 
good  copies  of  famous  paintings  from  Greek  mythology  originally  pro- 
duced by  the  masters  of  the  Hellenistic  age. 

A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

Many  of  these  are  good  copies  of  the  best  masterpieces  of 
Greece.  The  splendid  athlete  in  the  atrium  is  from  an  orig- 
inal by  Praxiteles ;  the  Penelope  in  the  peristylium  follows 
precisely  the  noble  work  of  Scopas.  Many  others  are  simply 
graceful  and  ornamental  but  less  pretentious  works  by  lesser 
geniuses,  often  adapted  in  detail  by  the  clever  copyists. 

The  whole  quantity  of  art 
objects  in  such  a  house  is 
enormous.  The  legs  and 
arms  of  the  chairs  and  every 
knob  and  handle  upon  the 
furniture  are  chased  or 
carved  with  an  amazing 
skill.  The  veriest  knick- 
nacks  and  articles  for  every- 
day life  have  been  trans- 
formed into  things  of  beauty. 
In  the  triclinium  is  a  long 
series  of  statuettes  present- 
ing the  myths  of  Bacchus  — 
the  god  himself,  the  drunken 
Silenus,  the  satyrs,  bac- 
chants, and  all  the  other 
revelers.  It  would  be  easy, 
indeed,  to  reconstruct  a  good 
part  of  the  standard  Grseco-Roman  mythology  from  the 
statues,  statuettes,  and  reliefs,  no  less  than  from  the  frescos 
scattered  about  the  mansion  and  garden. 

40.  Family  Portrait  Busts.  —  However,  there  is  one 
lengthy  array  of  sculptures  in  the  atrium  that  does  not  bear 
the  hand  of  Greece.  These  are  the  portrait  busts  of  the 
Junii  Calvi.  There  they  stand,  a  full  score  of  them;  all 
the  more  distinguished  members  of  the  great  house  since 
sculpture  became  a  facile  art  in  Rome. 


Roman  Homes 


It  is  an  array  of  cold,  hard,  yet  withal  terribly  efficient 
faces.  Slightly  battered  is  the  broad  homely  countenance 
of  that  tough  old  Calvus  who  was  Scipio's  legate  at  Zama. 
Here  also  is  the  sharp  shrewd  face  of  his  great-grandson  who 
was  praetor  under  gulla ;  here  the  more  refined  and  intellec- 
tual lines  of  the  grandson  of  the  last  named  worthy  who  won 
Octavius's  thanks  at  Actium  for  gallantry  with  his  bireme, 
and  afterward  was  a  famous 
governor  of  Syria ;  here  the 
high  forehead  of  that  coura- 
geous Stoic,  the  present 
master's  grandfather,  who 
bade  Nero  do  his  worst,  and 
who  calmly  "  opened  his 
veins  "  when  the  centurion 
arrived  with  the  tyrant's 
order  to  commit  suicide. 
There  are  also  displayed 
the  busts  of  several  dis- 
tinguished women  of  the 
family  including  that  Junia 
who  was  the  bosom  friend 
of  the  Empress  Livia. 

In  addition  to  these,  there 
are  the  portrait  busts  of  the  present  Publius  Calvus,  of  his 
wife  Gratia,  and  of  his  three  children.  They  are  all  executed 
with  remarkable  verisimilitude  and  without  the  least  flattery. 
Customs  with  the  hair  often  change,  and  the  headdress  of 
Gratia  is  made  detachable  so  that  if  her  style  of  headdress 
alters,  the  portrait  may  be  promptly  brought  up  tQ  date. 
Young  Sextus  the  second  boy  had  a  birthday  yesterday ;  his 
statue  is  still  hung  with  wreaths ;  flowers  too  hang  around 
the  likeness  of  Gnaeus  Calvus,  Publius's  brother,  who  lately 
died  while  propraetor  of  Bsetica  (South  Spain). 


54  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

41.  Death  Masks  (Imagines).  — The  sight  of  these  busts 
is  a  constant  incentive  to  both  the  young  Calvi  to  remember 
their  lordly  lineage ;   but  they  have  a  still  prouder  treasure. 
The  enormously  rich  freedman  Vedius  just  down  the  street 
would  give  twenty  million  sesterces  for  the  social  preeminence 
implied  by  the  possession  of  the  great  cupboard  all  bound  with 
gilt  and  bronze  bands  which  stands  in  the  tablinum.     Here, 
carefully  labeled,  are  kept  several  scores  of  waxen  death 
masks,  blackened,  marred,  and  ugly  enough  now,  but  all 
taken  when  the  successive  heads  of  the  family  lay  in  their 
last  slumber. 

Many  of  these  date  from  before  the  production  in  Rome  of 
sculptured  portrait  statues.  Here,  for  example,  is  the  mask 
of  the  Calvus  who  helped  win  the  consulship  for  the  plebeians  ; 
and  here  of  him  who  seconded  Appius  Claudius  in  the  Senate 
when  he  turned  away  the  glozing  envoys  of  Pyrrhus.  When 
alien  upstarts  complain  of  "  noble  pride,"  it  is  easy  for  a  Calvus 
to  toss  his  head :  "  Have  we  not  something  to  be  proud  of ! "  — 
and  later,  it  will  be  duly  explained  how  these  waxen  imagines 
appear  very  conspicuously  at  public  funerals  (p,  175). 

42.  Couches,  Their  General  Use.  —  One  cannot,  however, 
sit  or  lie  down  upon  statues  or  portrait  busts,  and  the  domus 
is  well  provided  with  conventional  furniture.    In  general  the 
Romans  prefer  to  recline  when  men  of  a  later  age  may  prefer 
to  sit.    Visitors  sprawl  down  on  couches  for  a  little  conversa- 
tion, and  the  regular  method  of  writing  is  not  at  a  desk  but 
lying  on  a  couch  with  the  right  leg  doubled  and  the  tablet 
held  on  the  knee.    Long  habit  makes  this  attitude  quite 

There  are  many  special  kinds  of  beds  for  reading,  dining, 
and  for  sleeping.  Of  course  the  latter  are  the  most  elaborate, 
and  in  Calvus's  and  Gratia' s  chamber  the  wooden  bed  is  so 
high  that  it  has  to  be  reached  by  a  footstool.  The  legs  are 
of  bronze,  elaborately  turned  and  carved,  the  frame  is  ve- 

Roman  Homes 


neered  with  tortoise  shell  and  the  supports  at  the  sides  of  the 
sloping  pillow-rest  are  set  with  plates  of  silver.  As  for  the 
thick  mattresses  they  are  of  the  finest  down  and  the  ample 
blankets  are  dyed  purple  and  embroidered  with  gold  thread. 
The  couches  in  the  triclinium  are  lighter  and  lower  although 
of  very  fine  cabinet  work,1  but  they  have  to  be  made  larger 

ROMAN  LAMPS  :   collection  in  Naples  Museum. 

for  they  must  accommodate  three  diners.  The  reading 
couches  (lectuli  —  "  little  beds  ")  are  still  lighter  and  simpler, 
although  of  elegant  design,  and  those  scattered  under  the 
peristylium  are  overlaid  with  plates  of  gold  leaf. 

43.  Elegant  Chairs  and  Costly  Tables.  —  Excluding  the 
couches  the  furnishings  of  a  Roman  domus  seem  much  simpler 

1  It  may  be  noted  that  the  Romans  seldom  had  built-in  upholstery 
upon  their  couches  and  chairs.  They  depended  upon  removable  cush- 
ions and  apparently  they  had  no  metal  springs. 


A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

than  those  used  in  a  later  age.  There  are  few  carpets,  no 
great  loss  in  view  of  the  beautiful  mosaic  floors,  although 
there  are  rich,  heavy  portieres  across  many  passages.  The 
chairs,  frequently  of  light  and  elegant  workmanship,  are  as 
a  rule  simple  and  often  backless.  Some,  however,  are  splen- 
didly inlaid  with  silver,  and  there  are  a  few  great  cathedra, 

ponderous  arm  chairs  with  lofty 

In  the  atrium,  moreover,  there 
stands  an  object  surveyed  with 
great  pride  by  Calvus's  children 
—  their  father's  sella  curulis,  the 
folding,  backless  arm  chair^with  a 
seat  of  leather  straps  which  the 
senator  had  occupied  while  prae- 
tor. Presently  (they  hope)  he 
will  sit  again  thereon  before  the 
admiring  Senate  house,  this  time 
presiding  as  the  veritable  consul. 
The  "  curule  chair,"  despite  its 
gold  and  ivory  arms  and  cushions 
covered  with  purple  Alexandrian 
fabrics,  is  anything  but  a  com- 
fortable seat  through  a  tedious 
official  ceremony ;  but  who 
thinks  of  personal  comfort  when  reckoning  the  glories  of  its 
public  occupancy ! 

Besides  the  chairs  there  are  everywhere  the  tables.  These 
are  numerous  but  low  and  small.  In  the  dining  room  they  are 
round  and  barely  two  feet  in  diameter ;  but  what  a  wealth 
of  art  and  taste  has  gone  into  their  making!  All  are  of 
extremely  fine  wood,  but  the  three  reserved  for  the  regular 
couches  of  the  dinner  guests  have  their  legs  overlaid  with 
plates  of  magnificently  embossed  gold,  and  the  material 


Roman  Homes  57 

upon  the  tops  is  composed  of  single  thin  slabs  cross-sawn 
from  the  trunks  of  the  great  citrus  trees  (a  form  of  cypress) 
on  Mount  Atlas. 

This  wood  can  be  finished  to  show  an  exquisite  wavy  pat- 
tern or  curly  veins  —  "  tiger  citrus,"  "  panther  citrus/'  or 
"  peacock-tail  citrus "  —  the  experts  call  the  varieties. 
Over  really  fine  specimens  true  connoisseurs  go  into  ecstasies, 
and  fortunes  can  be  wasted.  A  table  somewhat  larger  than 
Calvus's  has  been  known  to  sell  for  500,000  sesterces  ($20,000)  ; 
and  there  is  a  record  price  of  twice  that  figure.  The  tables 
in  the  present  mansion  are  nowhere  nearly  so  valuable ;  yet 
they  are  among  the  most  precious  objects  in  the  house.  If 
there  is  a  fire,  they  will  be  rescued  almost  before  anything 
else,  always  barring  the  waxen  imagines. 

44.  Chests,  Cabinets,  Water  Clocks,  and  Curios.  —  Of 
course  there  are  many  other  articles  of  furniture  like  the 
great  area,  the  masters  strong  box  in  the  tablinum ;  heavily 
locked  and  riveted  down  upon  the  stone  beneath.  There 
are  the  elegant  tall  candelabra,  of  bronze  or  even  of  silver, 
elaborately  ornamented  and  swinging  at  night  with  such  bat- 
teries of  olive-oil  lamps  as  to  make  the  marbles,  frescos,  and 
mosaics  give  back  an  alluring  glitter.  There  is  the  water 
clock  in  the  peristylium,  a  kind  of  glorified  hour-glass,  so 
adjusted  as  to  record  small  fractions  of  time,  and  beside 
which  a  special  slave  usually  stands  all  day  long  to  call  off 
the  passage  of  each  hour  to  the  family.  There  are  great 
cabinets,  chests,  and  cupboards  full  of  plate,  fine  blankets,  and 
extremely  elaborate  wardrobes. 

In  addition  to  all  these  upon  a  kind  of  sideboard  there 
stand  forth  real  or  alleged  objects  of  value  or  antiquity,  a 
silver  cup  taken  at  the  capture  of  Syracuse ;  a  tall  black  and 
red  vase  signed  by  the  master  potter  Callisthenes ;  and  a 
statuette  of  a  dancing  girl  which  is  probably  a  true  work  of 
Lysippus.  Conspicuous,  too,  is  a  silver  bowl,  battered  and 

58  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

discolored,  and  of  extreme  simplicity.  Mock  it  not,  however, 
it  is  "  the  ancestral  salt  cellar  "  (as  remarks  Horace),  the 
one  silver  dish  possessed  by  the  good  old  Calvi,  when  in  all 
the  Roman  Senate  there  was  only  a  single  complete  silver 
dinner  service  to  be  exchanged  from  house  to  house  when 
high  officials  entertained  ambassadors. 

45.  Spurious  Antiques.  —  Publius  Calvus  is  happy  in  pos- 
sessing undeniably  genuine   antiques.     He   can   afford  to 
laugh  at  the  collection  of  the  rich  freedman  across  the  way. 
That  poor  fellow,  anxious  to  "  keep  in  style  "  and  to  display 
an  art  collection,  has  fallen  into  the  clutches  of  unscrupulous 
dealers.    He  has  filled  his  atrium  with  absurd  specimens 
such  as  "  cups  from  the  table  of  Laomedon,  a  double  vase 
that  belonged  to  Nestor  and  a  tankard  used  by  Achilles/' 
His  citrus  tables  are  of  very  thin  veneer,  and  in  his  atrium 
his  impossible  wife  has  actually  on  display  a  ponderous 
golden  box  in  which  her  husband's  first  beard  is  deposited. 
It  is  also  gossiped  about  that  this  crude  fellow  actually  pre- 
tended sickness  lately,  merely  that  he  might  receive  con- 
doling friends  in  bed  and  display  to  them  the  gold  chasings 
on  the  bedstead,  the  magnificent  scarlet  coverlets,  and  pro- 
claim his  riches  by  having  the  mattress  steeped  in  expensive 

46.  Pet  Animals.  —  One  thing  more  must  be  stated  about 
the  house  of  the  Calvi  before  passing  to  its  human  denizens. 
There  are  a  great  many  tame  animals  in  evidence.    Over  the 
doorway  one  already  notes  the  caged  magpie.     From  a  dark 
corner  within  a  large  cage  blinks  a   morose-looking   owl. 
The  master's  fine  greyhound  has  a  litter  of  puppies  which 
are  now  scrambling  around  the  peristylium  with  a  special 
slave  to  look  after  them.    Behind  a  column  is  seen  gliding  a 
slinky  civet.    The  children  delight  in  a  small  monkey  teth- 
ered now  in  the  garden.    Gratia  especially  has  her  own  be- 

Roman  Homes  59 

loved  lap  dog  and  its  personal  slave-boy  custodian.  She 
does  not,  however,  imitate  a  certain  female  friend  who 
dotes  upon  snakes,  and  who  has  a  whole  cage  of  the  crea- 
tures which  she  often  twines  about  her  neck  to  scare  her 

So  much  for  the  material  aspects  of  a  Roman  insula  and  a 
Roman  domus.    It  is  time  to  examine  their  inhabitants. 


47.  Honorable  Status  of  Roman  Women.  —  Calvus  is  the 
lordly  senator  when  his  litter  swings  him  down  to  the  Curia 
by  the  Old  Forum  to  participate  in  what  is  still  the  most 
venerable  council  in  the  world,  but  in  his  own  house  his 
authority  is  divided.  He  is  not  even  sure  that  one-half  the 
power  is  really  his.  In  all  private  matters  his  sway  is  shared 
by  his  spouse  Gratia. 

Many  are  the  evils  inflicting  Imperial  Rome,  but  oppres- 
sion of  women  is  not  one  of  them.  By  the  age  of  Hadrian 
it  has  long  since  come  to  pass  what  Cato  the  Elder  sadly  pre- 
dicted three  centuries  earlier,  when  Roman  women  were  learn- 
ing the  way  to  freedom :  "  On  the  day  that  women  are  our 
equals,  they  will  be  our  masters." 

Roman  women  are,  indeed,  excluded  from  seats  in  the 
Senate  and  from  the  long-defunct  right  to  vote  in  the  public 
assemblies.1  They  cannot  command  armies  nor  receive  gov- 
ernorships, although  every  now  and  then  an  angry  senator 
vainly  proposes  a  resolution  that  governors  shall  not  take  their 
wives  along  with  them  to  their  provinces,  lest  the  latter  con- 
stitute themselves  the  real  rulers  of  the  district.  Women  do 
not  act  as  judges  or  jurors.  Nay  more:  legally  they  are 
under  legal  disabilities  calculated  to  stir  the  rage  of  their 
"  equal  suffrage  "  sisters  of  a  later  day.  They  have  always 
the  status  of  minors,  and  are  subject  to  the  legal  control  of 
either  father,  guardian,  or  husband  to  their  dying  hour. 

1  It  had  been  suppressed  for  all  practical  purposes  soon  after  14  A. D. 


Roman  Women  and  Roman  Marriages   61 

All  this  is  true,  yet,  what  of  it  ?  The  jurists  have  long  ago 
devised  fictions  of  the  law  whereby  the  women  have  practi- 
cally as  complete  control  of  their  property  as  have  their 
brothers ;  and  the  government  of  the  Empire  is  peculiarly  a 
government  of  backstairs  intrigues  and  of  secret  influence. 
What  chance  have  mere  men  against  women  in  such  warfare  ? 
Custom  also  assigns  to  women  an  amount  of  freedom  in  most 
social  matters  which  makes  Imperial  Rome  a  feminine  paradise 
that  can  only  be  matched  by  Twentieth  Century  America. 

48.  Men  Reluctant  to  Marry.  —  Long  since  leaders  of  the 
bolder  sex  have  had  to  reason  with  their  fellow  citizens  on  the 
necessity  of  marriage  as  a  patriotic  duty.     The  pragmatic 
old  censor  Quintus  Metellus  in  102  B.C.  delivered  a  kind  of  a 
lay  sermon :    "  If  we  could  get  along  without  wives,  fellow 
citizens  (Quirites)  we  should  all  spare  ourselves  the  tedium  of 
marriage,  but  nature  has  ordained  that  we  can  neither  live 
pleasantly  with  wives,  nor  exist  at  all  without  them  —  there- 
fore let  us  sacrifice  our  personal  interests  to  those  of  society." 
After  him  Emperor  Augustus  enacted  stiff  laws  to  decrease 
the  alarming  number  of  bachelors,  and  to  give  special  privi- 
leges to  the  parents  of  three  children.    This  does  not  prevent 
many  prominent  Romans  from  looking  upon  a  wife  as  a  kind 
of  expensive  bondage  often  to  be  shunned  altogether. 

49.  Rights    and  Privileges  of  Married  Women.  —  The 
great  majority  of  all  Romans  are  married.    Even  the  slaves 
are  allowed  to  join  in  a  kind  of  unofficial  wedlock  known  as 
contubernium,  which  only  a  very  harsh  master  will  dissolve. 
As  for  the  free1  married  women  they  go  everywhere  and  do 
almost  everything.     No  husband's  permission  is  needed  when 
they  visit  the  Forum  or  theater.    They  can  sue  and  be  sued 
or  give  testimony  in  the  courts  without  his  intervention. 
They  manage  their  own  property.    Gratia,  for  example,  is 
well  off  in  her  own  right.    Her  estates  are  in  charge  of  a  dap- 

A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

per  young  freedman  Ephorus,  who  is  incessantly  visiting  her, 
and  who  never  dreams  of  taking  orders  from  her  husband. 
So  long  as  Gratia  is  barely  faithful  to  Calvus  he  has  no  right 
to  complain.  He  thanks  his  "  Good  Genius/'  therefore,  that 

things  are  not  as  in  his  friend 
Probus's  house,  where  the 
mistress's  factotum  is  sus- 
pected of  being  on  altogether 
too  familiar  terms  with  his 
fair  employer. 

Nevertheless,  this  freedom 
is  supposed  to  carry  with  it 
corresponding  responsibili- 
ties. Every  Roman  woman 
theoretically  is  responsible 
for  her  husband's  good  name 
and  for  the  wise  ordering  of 
his  family.  No  right-minded 
woman  dismisses  the  hope 
that  at  the  end  they  will  put 
the  great  words  on  her  tomb- 
stone :  "  She  counselled  well. 
She  managed  well.  She  spun 

The  control  of  the  vast 
familia  of  slaves  is  usually  in 
a  matron's  hands,  a  duty  cal- 
culated to  bring  out  every  executive  quality  within  her.  She 
largely  conducts  the  education  of  her  sons,  no  less  than  of  her 
daughters.  No  Roman  is  ashamed  to  admit  (as  an  Athenian 
in  Pericles's  day  might  have  been  ashamed)  that  in  the  great 
crises  of  life  he  took  the  authoritative  advice  of  his  mother.1 


1  Witness,  as  moat  famous  example,  the  case  of  Cornelia,  mother  of 
Tiberius  and  Gaius  Gracchus,    Very  many  other  instances  could  be  cited. 

Roman  Women  and  Roman  Marriages   63 

Roman  civilization  is,  therefore,  for  better  or  worse,  a  civili- 
zation to  which  women  no  less  than  men  have  been  suffered 
to  apply  the  full  powers  of  their  genius.  It  is  a  "  hundred 
per  cent  civilization  " ;  whereas,  that  of  Athens,  considering 
the  manner  in  which  Athenian  women  were  confined  and 
ignored,  was  hardly  more  than  a  "fifty  per  cent  civili- 

50.  Selection  of  Husbands  for  Young  Girls.  —  It  is  a  fact, 
however,  that  in  one  great  and  vital  matter  Roman  women  are 
not  free  agents.  They  usually  have  their  husbands,  at  least 
their  first  husbands,  chosen  for  them  by  their  parents. 
This  comes  to  pass  largely  because  usage  requires  that  girls 
should  be  married  so  young  that  no  rational  romance  on  their 
part  is  really  possible. 

Custom  amounting  to  law  requires  that  a  girl  shall  be  at 
least  twelve,  and  a  boy  fourteen  before  marriage.  In  the  case 
of  girls  this  minimum  is  often  adhered  to  pretty  closely,  but 
betrothals  can  be  arranged  still  earlier.  Cicero's  daughter 
Tullia  was  betrothed  at  ten  and  married  at  thirteen  —  a 
very  common  arrangement.  Nobody  imagined  she  had  the 
least  right  to  complain.  Marriage  involves  a  great  shift  in 
family  relations,  and  the  control  of  the  family  pertains 
strictly  to  the  pater  familias  and  to  his  matrona.  They  will 
ordinarily  exercise  loving  pains  in  selecting  a  suitable  spouse 
for  a  daughter,  but  the  decision  must  be  very  largely 

Boys  as  a  rule  marry  much  later,  often  not  until  well  into 
manhood.  They  can  demand  inevitably  a  certain  right  of 
choice,  although  the  parents  still  exercise  a  marked  authority. 
As  for  bachelors,  if  they  indulge  in  various  coarse  "  affairs  " 
with  dancing  girls,  only  very  peevish  persons  are  critical. 
After  marriage,  however,  they  must  treat  their  wives  with 
reasonable  outward  respect,  if  by  no  means  always  with  aus- 
tere faithfulness.  In  any  case  a  girl  is  likely  to  be  married  off 

64  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

too  young  either  to  resist  her  parents'  choice  or  to  pick  out 
intelligently  any  proper  husband  for  herself.1 

51.  A  Marriage  Treaty  among  Noble-Folk.  —  When 
Gratia's  parents  decided  she  was  old  enough  to  "  become 
settled"  they  applied  to  a  distinguished  kinsman,  an  ex- 
consul,  to  help  them  to  find  a  suitable  bridegroom.  This 
noble  gentleman  looked  over  a  list  of  his  younger  friends, 
selected  Calvus,  and  wrote  a  careful  letter  commending  him, 
praising  his  lineage,  and  his  firm  hopes  of  official  distinction, 
and  telling  how  "  he  had  a  frank,  open  countenance,  fresh 
colored  and  blooming  and  a  handsome  well-knit  figure  " ;  in 
short "  he  was  quite  the  fellow  to  deserve  so  fine  a  girl."  The 
great  man  went  on  to  add  that  the  favored  candidate  had  a 
respectable  fortune,  for  "  though  I  dislike  to  speak  of  the 
financial  aspects  of  the  matter,  still  one  must  consider  the 
tendencies  of  the  day."  Not  one  word  was  said  as  to  how 
Gratia  herself  might  want  to  be  consulted ;  her  consent  was 
taken  for  granted.2 

Gratia's  parents,  therefore,  approached  Calvus's  guardian, 
his  uncle.  He  being  satisfied  as  to  dowry  and  social  adjust- 
ments, both  young  people  were  informed  of  what  had  been 
determined  for  them.  Gratia  and  Calvus  alike  had  always 
expected  some  such  arrangement  and  capitulated  with  reason- 
able grace.  The  ensuing  marriage,  founded  not  on  any  ro- 

1  Headers  of  Plutarch  will  recall  the  story  of  how  Appius  Claudius, 
then  "Princeps  Senatus,"  proposed  to  Tiberius  Gracchus  at  an  evening 
banquet  of  the  College  of  Augurs  that  he  should  marry  Claudius's 
daughter.  Young  Gracchus  promptly  accepted  and  the  older  nobleman 
rushed  home  in  delight  (Tiberius  being  a  great  "catch").  On  entering 
his  house  Claudius  called  out  with  loud  voice  to  his  wife  "Antistia,  I've 
got  a  husband  for  Claudia !"  "What's  all  the  hurry  about,"  answered 
she,  "unless  he's  Tiberius  Gracchus?"  Antistia  evidently  had  to  be 
informed  first ;  the  glad  news  could  be  broken  to  her  daughter  later. 

J  This  anecdote  and  the  quotations  are  all  from  the  letter  of  Pliny  the 
Younger  to  his  friend  Mauricius  advising  the  latter  (as  per  request  for 
counsel)  to  seek  the  hand  of  Minucius  Ancilianus  for  his  niece. 

Roman  Women  and  Roman  Marriages    65 

mance,  but  on  a  cold-blooded  study  of  what  supposedly  made 
for  domestic  happiness,  in  this  case  at  least  has  been  fortunate 
and  fruitful.  The  wedded  pair  have  come  truly  to  love  one 
another,  and  they  dwell  in  great  harmony.  In  this  general 
manner  marriages  are  arranged  every  day  in  Rome. 

Of  course  these  are  first  marriages.  Let  Gratia  become  a 
widow,  or  let  her  imitate  so  many  of  her  friends  and  divorce 
her  husband,  and  her  second  spouse  will  ordinarily  be  of  quite 
her  own  choosing ;  and  Calvus,  of  course,  in  selecting  again, 
would  be  completely  his  own  master. 

62.  A  Betrothal  in  Wealthy  Circles.  —  Gratia's  daughter 
Junia  is  only  ten,  yet  her  parents  are  already  beginning 
to  think  about  betrothals ;  but  only  a  block  up  the  street 
there  has  just  been  the  excitement  of  an  actual  wedding. 
Aulus  Statilius  Pomponius  is  only  an  eques,  but  the  gods  have 
blessed  him  with  a  hundred  million  sesterces  ($4,000,000). 
He  and  his  wife  have  a  daughter  who  will  inherit  vast  posses- 
sions, and  wealth  is  a  splendid  substitute  for  lineage.  They 
have  found  a  young  Gaius  Ulpius  Pollio,  already  in  the 
Senate,  who  claims  a  distant  cousinship  to  the  Emperor 
himself.  Pollio  is  none  too  wealthy  and  is  already  a  widower, 
but  Statilia  and  her  mother  are  infinitely  delighted  at  an 
alliance  with  the  edges  of  an  imperial  house.  Nothing  has 
lacked,  therefore,  for  an  ultra-fashionable  wedding,  the  talk 
of  the  entire  capital. 

First  came  the  betrothal,  a  great  social  concourse  in  Pom- 
ponius's  atrium,  a  throng  of  equites  and  senators  with  their 
wives,  jewels  flashing,  countless  tongues  gossiping,  with 
Statilia  led  in  by  her  father  to  the  center  of  the  circle  to  meet 
the  bridegroom-to-be.  Statilia  said  not  a  word  through  the 
entire  proceedings.  All  Pollio's  dealings  were  with  her  father, 
and  in  clear  voice  the  two  men  exchanged  the  legal  formulas : 
"  Do  you  promise  to  give  your  daughter,  Statilia  to  me,  to  be 
my  wedded  wife?"  said  the  younger  man. 

66  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

"  The  gods  bring  luck  !     I  betroth  her." 

"  The  gods  bring  luck  I" 

After  that  technically  Statilia  became  a  bride-elect ;  she 
was  a  spousa.  Either  side  had  legally  the  right  still  to  break 
the  agreement,  but  it  was  socially  ruinous  to  do  so.  Pollio 
presented  Statilia  with  various  valuable  toilet  articles,  and 
especially  with  a  ring  to  be  worn  on  the  third  finger  of  the 
left  hand,  because  everybody  said  that  "  a  nerve  ran  directly 
from  this  particular  finger  to  the  heart/'  It  was  the  engage- 
ment ring  of  a  later  age  almost  precisely. 

53.  Adjusting  the  Dowry.  —  Then  followed  weeks  of 
frantic  preparation:  the  women  busy  with  the  things  which 
always  have  made  women  busy  over  weddings  long  before 
the  days  of  Romulus  and  Remus ;  Pomponius  and  Pollio 
with  wrestling  over  the  very  nice  legal  adjustments  of  Sta- 
tilia's  dowry.  How  much  would  the  old  eques  give  in  all, 
in  cash,  land,  and  banker's  securities?  How  much  for  his 
daughter's  special  use  ?  How  much  as  dos,  the  funds  which 
the  new  son-in-law  could  touch?  How  could  the  property 
be  arranged  so  that  if  the  marriage  ended  presently  in  a 
divorce  (as  spiteful  wagers  were  already  being  laid  that  it 
might)  the  dos  could  be  given  back  to  Statilia  without  griev- 
ous loss  of  principal  ? 

At  one  time  the  betrothal  almost  had  to  be  cancelled,  such 
extreme  shrewdness  was  shown  on  both  sides.  But  finally 
the  matter  was  adjusted.  Three  noble  friends  for  either 
side  pressed  their  seal  rings  in  witness  to  the  contracts.  The 
day  came  for  the  wedding. 

64.  Dressing  the  Bride.  —  Family  exigencies  required  a 
springtime  wedding,  when  there  were  a  great  many  unlucky 
days  to  be  avoided;  but  an  expert  Etruscan  haruspex  at 
length  found  a  day  that  satisfied  Statilia  and  her  parents' 
scruples.  On  the  night  before  the  great  event  she  laid  all 

Roman  Women  and  Roman  Marriages   67 

her  playthings,  her  childish  amulet  (build),  and  her  childish 
garments  on  the  altar  of  the  paternal  Lares  whose  protection 
she  was  quitting  forever.  Then  she  went  to  bed  in  a  tunica 
recta,  a  fine,  yellow  garment  woven  in  one  piece,  supposedly 
an  article  of  extremely  good  omen. 

The  next  day  the  bride  was  dressed  personally  by  her 
mother  with  unusual  care.  However  expensive  her  orna- 
ments she  had  to  wear  this  same  one-piece  tunic  next  to  her 
skin,  the  gown  being  held  around  the  waist  by  a  band  of  wool 
tied  with  a  complicated  "  knot  of  Hercules."  She  wore, 
of  course,  all  the  jewels  loaded  upon  neck,  ears,  arms,  and 
fingers  which  by  the  contract  she  was  to  bring  Pollio  in 
her  trousseau.  Her  long  hair  had  been  parted  according 
to  ancient  custom  by  a  spear  into  six  locks,  braided  now 
with  ribbons  weighted  down  with  pearls.  Her  shoes  were 
of  finest  white  leather  covered  with  more  pearls.  Over  her 
head  streamed  a  long,  gauzy  flame-colored  veil  of  silk  — 
worth  very  literally  more  than  its  weight  in  gold.1  Pressing 
down  this  bridal  veil  was  a  garland  of  flowers  picked,  as 
custom  required,  by  the  bride's  own  hand,  and  interspersed 
with  sprigs  of  the  sacred  "  verbena  "  herbs.  Pollio,  when  he 
presented  himself,  was  in  the  best  gala  costume  of  a  senator, 
but  there  were  no  special  "  wedding  garments  "  for  the  bride- 
groom, corresponding  to  the  bridal  veil. 

66.  The  Marriage  Ceremonies.  —  The  afternoon  was  at 
hand,  and  the  insulae  in  neighboring  quarters  emptied  their 
plebeian  throngs  to  gaze  at  the  gilded  litters  which  went 
swinging  up  to  the  house  of  Pomponius,  the  armies  of  scarlet- 
clad  running  footmen,  the  pompous  freedmen  marching 
beside  their  patron's  sedans,  the  bravery  of  purple  robes, 
the  flash  of  gold  and  of  jewels.  Of  course,  the  atrium  had 

1  All  silk  was  imported  by  extremely  long  caravan  routes  from  China. 
If  this  veil  was  actually  of  pure  silk  and  not  mixed  with  cotton,  it  was  of 
enormous  value. 

68  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

been  hung  with  garlands.  The  air  inside  was  heavy  with  the 
perfumes  of  flowers,  of  costly  unguents,  and  of  the  finest 
Arabian  incense,  while  the  noble  guests  elbowed  and  pushed 
one  another  to  get  near  the  altar  near  the  tablinum  and  win 
the  best  sight  of  the  happy  pair. 

Roman  marriages  are  pretty  strictly  civil  ceremonies. 
There  is  no  legal  requirement  for  any  religious  rites.  Hardly 
anybody  now  is  married  according  to  the  stale  old  formula  of 
the  confarreatio,  when  the  betrothed  couple  became  wedded 
by  eating  a  cake  which  had  just  been  consecrated  by  the 
Pontifex  Maximus.  A  much  simpler  form  is  now  used,  but 
before  the  ceremony  there  always  has  to  be  the  sacrifice. 

Amid  a  decently  pious  hush  a  sheep  is  led  to  the  side  of  the 
water  tank  (impluwum)  in  the  atrium ;  the  shrewd-eyed  old 
haruspex,  trailing  his  long  robe  and  muttering  jargon  that 
passes  for  Etruscan,  is  aided  by  two  skillful  assistants  in 
killing  the  creature  promptly  and  avoiding  disgusting  gore ; 
then  in  ripping  open  its  belly  and  examining  with  expert  eye 
the  still  quivering  entrails.  (See  p.  429.)  It  is  proper  now 
for  Statilia  to  turn  pale  and  clutch  the  arm  of  her  mother. 
What  if  the  signs  were  unfavorable?  "  Whoever  heard  of 
bad  omens  being  discovered  at  a  great  wedding?"  cynically 
whispers  a  senator.  "  Bene  —  good  1 "  announces  the  haru- 
spex with  a  leer.  "  Bene!  Bene!"  echo  all  the  guests. 
The  soothsayer  retires.  The  wedding  can  proceed. 

The  final  ceremony  is  very  simple.  First  the  tablets  of 
the  marriage  contract  and  the  transfer  of  the  dowry  are  pro- 
duced, read,  and,  if  not  already  witnessed,  are  signed  by  the 
proper  attestors.  Then  a  young  matron-of-honor,  StatihVs 
pronuba,  leads  the  bride  up  to  Pollio.  She  thrusts  out  her 
hand  from  under  her  great  veil  and  takes  the  hand  of  her 
husband-elect.  Everybody  listens  while  he,  and  not  any 
priest  or  official  for  him,  puts  the  direct  question  :  "  WilJ  you 
be  my  mater  familias  f  "  "  Yes/'  answers  Statilia,  perhaps 

Roman  Women  and  Roman  Marriages   69 

a  little  too  readily;  and  then  she  asks  him  openly: 
"  And  will  you  be  my  pater  familias  ?  "  "  Yes,"  aixd  immedi- 
ately there  is  a  general  shout  of  congratulation. 

These  decisive  words  once  spoken,  Pollio,  his  bride,  and  her 
parents  unite  in  placing  a  cake  of  coarse  bread  upon  the  altar, 
uttering  brief  dedications  of  the  food  to  Jupiter  and  Juno,  and 
also  to  the  quaint  rural  gods  Tellus,  Picumnus,  and  Pilum- 
nus  who  will  bless  the  estates  of  the  new  couple.  The  cakes 
are  presented  in  a  basket  held  by  a  young  boy,  Statilia's 
cousin,  her  camillus,  both  of  whose  parents  are  required  to 
be  living.  The  company  now  redoubles  its  cry  of  "  Good 
luck !  Good  luck  !  felicitas! "  —  and  everybody  is  assuredly 
in  excellent  appetite  for  the  ensuing  wedding  feast. 

56.  The  Wedding  Procession.  —  This  is  not  the  place  for 
describing  a  great  banquet  (see  p.  113) ;  it  is  enough  here  to 
state  that  Pomponius  is  obliged  to  justify  his  wealth  by  a 
prodigal  hospitality.  Vain  has  proved  Augustus's  law 
limiting  the  cost  of  wedding  feasts  to  one  thousand  sesterces 
($40).  Such  regulations  win  only  laughter ! 

As  the  climax  after  the  dainties  comes  the  distribution  of 
pieces  of  the  huge  wedding-cake  (mustaceum),  made  of  fine 
meal  steeped  in  new  wine  and  served  upon  bay  leaves.  By 
this  time  everybody  has  drunk  enough  good  Massic  and  Faler- 
nian  to  be  excited  and  talkative,  it  has  become  twilight  in  the 
street,  and  Pomponius's  chief  freedman  (the  master  of  cere- 
monies) gives  the  signal :  "  The  procession !" 

In  the  vestibule  musters  a  squad  of  flute  players  and  torch 
bearers.  As  the  music  strikes  up,  good  form  requires  Sta- 
tilia  to  cast  herself  into  her  mother's  arms  and  weep  and 
scream  violently.  Good  form  equally  requires  Pollio  to 
tear  her  thence  with  playful  violence  —  "a  remembrance," 
people  say,  "of  the  Romans'  rape  of  the  Sabines."  Statilia 
promptly  ceases  struggling  and  submits  cheerfully  to  being 
led  through  the  door. 

70  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

The  wedding  procession  is  an  indispensable  part  of  the 
ceremony.  Probably  if  Pollio  lives  in  another  city,  some 
family  friend  will  now  loan  his  residence  for  "  leading  home 
the  bride."  As  it  is,  the  bridegroom  fortunately  possesses  a 
handsome  house  about  a  mile  distant  on  the  Quirinal.  For 
all  her  wealth  Statilia  has  to  walk  the  entire  way. 

First  go  the  flute  players  bringing  the  crowds  out  of  all  the 
insulse  when  they  cross  the  Subura;  then  long  files  of  the 
younger  guests  of  both  sexes,  talking  vivaciously,  and  flour- 
ishing white-thorn  torches ;  then  the  camillus  and  a  youthful 
assistant  bearing  ostentatiously  the  bride's  spindle  and  dis- 
taff, token  of  the  household  labors  presumably  ahead  of  her ; 
then  the  bride  herself,  led  on  either  hand  by  a  boy  both  of 
whose  parents  are  living,  while  a  third  of  like  good  fortune 
carries  a  special  torch  of  honor.  Pollio  himself  walks  just 
behind  the  bride,  and  is  kept  busy  tossing  walnuts  to  all  the 
children  in  the  crowd  in  token  of  the  fact  that  he  has  now 
(for  the  second  time)  put  away  childish  things.  After  them, 
with  more  flambeaux  and  in  merry  disorder,  taking  pains  to 
exhibit  their  fine  robes  and  jewels,  follow  all  the  older  rela- 
tives and  friends  of  both  parties.  The  torchlight,  the  music, 
the  brave  colors,  and  gems  gleaming  out  of  the  darkness 
make  the  scene  bewitching.  No  wonder  all  the  gaping 
crowds  join  in  the  marriage  shouts  "  lo  Talasse  I"1  or  in  the 
oft-repeated  "  Felicitas ! " 

57.  At  the  Bridegroom's  House.  — -The  guests  and  many 
of  the  spectators  fail  not  also  to  raise  the  "  Fescinne 
songs "  proper  for  marriage  processions ;  old  folk  songs 
very  coarse,  and  interspersed  with  extremely  broad  quips 
and  personalities.  At  last  the  house  of  Pollio  is  reached. 
It  is  a  blaze  of  light  from  vestibule  to  garden,  and  all  the 

Possibly  meaning  "Hurrah  for  Talassus,  the  marriage  god!"  but 
the  exact  significance  of  this  time-honored  shout  had  probably  been  long 
since  lost. 

Roman  Women  and  Roman  Marriages    71 

decuri®  (squads  of  ten)  of  slaves  are  mustered  to  greet  their 
new  domina. 

At  the  entrance  Statilia  stops  to  wind  the  door  pillars  with 
bits  of  wool,  and  to  touch  the  door  itself  with  oil  and  fat,  the 
emblems  of  plenty.  She  is  then  promptly  lifted  over  the 
threshold  to  avoid  an  ill-omened  stumble,  and  is  immediately 
confronted  by  her  husband  who  has  slipped  in  before  her  and 
who  now  presents  her  with  a  cup  of  water  and  a  glowing  fire 
brand,  token  that  she  is  entitled  to  the  protection  of  his  family 
Lares.  Statilia  accepts  these  and  in  clear  voice  repeats  the 
very  ancient  and  famous  marriage  formula,  "  Where  thou  art 
Gaius,  I  am  Gaia  "  (  Ubi  tu  Gains,  ego  Gaia). 

The  invited  guests  now  sweep  inside  and  there  is  more  el- 
bowing while  Statilia  produces  three  silver  coins ;  one  of  these 
she  gives  to  her  husband  as  emblem  of  her  dowry ;  one  she 
lays  on  the  altar  for  the  Lares  of  her  new  home ;  one  she  casts 
back  into  the  street,  a  gift  to  the  "  Lares  of  the  Highway  " 
who  guarded  the  door.  Then  her  marriage  torch  is  blown 
out,  and  tossed  away  to  be  scrambled  for  as  emblem  of  su- 
preme good  luck  by  all  the  younger  guests.  The  matron 
of  honor  has  already  arranged  the  luxurious  marriage  cham- 
ber, and  the  happy  pair  are  led  inside  and  the  door  shut  upon 
them,  while  all  their  friends  join  in  the  rollicking  "  nuptial 
song  "  just  outside  the  portal.  There  is  nothing  left  now 
for  the  guests  to  do  but  to  go  home ;  all  being  invited,  how- 
ever, to  return  to  Pollio's  house  the  next  day  to  join  in  a 
second  great  feast,  with  Statilia  this  time  presiding  as  mis- 
tress of  the  establishment. 

58.  Honors  and  Liberties  of  a  Matron.  —  Before  her  mar- 
riage Statilia  had  been  a  mere  girl,  completely  controlled  by 
her  parents,  unable  to  appear  in  public  save  under  severe 
restrictions,  and  apparently  with  hardly  a  will  of  her  own. 
The  day  after  entering  Pollio's  house  she  finds  herself  become 
by  one  act  a  noble  matrona,  with  the  destinies  of  a  huge 

72  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

retinue  of  slaves  and  freedmen  at  her  disposal,  enjoying  a 
great  property,  meeting  her  husband's  friends  as  their  equal, 
going  where  she  pleases,  saying  what  she  pleases,  almost 
(within  wide  limits)  doing  what  she  pleases. 

Abroad  in  crowds,  her  dress,  the  stola  matronalis,  secures 
the  young  married  woman  extreme  respect.  Every  March, 
she,  with  all  the  other  honorable  wives  in  Rome,  enjoys  the 
honors  of  the  matronalia,  an  official  festival,  kind  of 
"  Mother's  day  "  devoted  to  celebrating  the  virtues  of  the 
gracious  heads  of  each  household.  On  this  day  no  less  than 
on  her  birthday,  she  receives  presents  from  her  husband, 
her  family,  and  all  her  dependents.  Finally,  being  a 
Senator's  wife,  when  she  comes  to  die,  she  probably  will  be 
entitled  to  a  great  state  funeral,  with  a  formal  eulogy  in  the 
Forum  as  if  she  were  a  public  personage.  No  wonder  that 
Roman  girls  yearn  eagerly  for  marriage  1  It  is  their 
astonishing  emancipation. 

69.  Unhappy  Marriages  and  Frivolous  Women.  —  Will  a 
fashionable  alliance  like  that  of  Statilia  and  Pollio  turn  out 
happily?  There  are  scoffers  even  among  the  friends  who 
bore  the  torches.  Nobody  expects  Pollio  (a  gay  young  aris- 
tocrat) to  prove  an  example  of  austere  faithfulness,  although 
he  must  never  do  anything  to  insult  his  wife  publicly.  As  for 
Statilia  the  cynics  about  the  fair  sex  are  very  many.  Long 
ago  Ovid  has  written,  "  Every  woman  may  be  won  if  only 
she's  rightly  tempted."  If  a  young  wife  is  light-minded,  she 
has  plenty  of  opportunities  to  acquire  lovers,  and  at  the  great 
festivals  and  banquets,  at  the  theaters,  gladiator  fights,  and 
circuses  women  have  every  chance  to  meet  intriguing  men 
without  interference  by  their  husbands. 

The  very  fact  that  as  unmarried  girls  Roman  matrons  were 
denied  all  chance  for  lawful  romances,  now  makes  devious 
love  affairs  seem  all  the  more  racy.  Any  number  of  fine 
ladies  have  indulged  in  unwise  "  friendships  "  with  dissolute 

Roman  Women  and  Roman  Marriages   73 

actors,  public  dancers,  or  even  gladiators.  In  many  a  man- 
sion there  is  a  handsome  freedman  or  even  a  slave  who  can 
become  extraordinarily  familiar  with  his  mistress.  There 
are  said  to  be  coarse-grained  mothers  who  actually  teach 
their  married  daughters  how  to  push  intrigues  and  to  smuggle 
in  or  out  love-letters  under  the  very  noses  of  their  hus- 
bands ;  and  there  are  plenty  of  young  men,  rich,  "  noble/' 
and  very  idle,  who  spend  their  time  philandering  with  mar- 
ried ladies. 

With  every  deduction  and  allowance  for  scandal  the  num- 
ber of  such  unsteady  women  is  very  great.  "  What  snakes 
are  driving  you  mad,"  cried  Juvenal,  "  that  you  think  of 
taking  a  wife  ?  Why  not  leap  from  a  high  window  or  from 
the  -dEmilian  bridge  rather  than  submit  to  a  she-tyrant  ?  " 

However,  even  if  women  lead  lives  that  are  outwardly  re- 
spectable, there  are  plenty  of  minor  charges  against  Roman 
ladies.  Some  are  utterly  extravagant;  haunting  the  fine 
shops  along  the  Via  Lata  and  running  up  ruinous  bills.  Some 
are  laughed  at  for  taking  up  music,  poetry,  or  Greek  antiqui- 
ties as  shallow  fads  and  "  chattering  in  a  mixture  of  Latin  and 
Greek,  and  making  their  tongues  go  incessantly  like  a  gong." 
Some  are  said  to  take  fencing  lessons  and  to  waste  their  days 
practicing  on  a  dummy  antagonist  with  a  foil,  and  learning 
to  handle  a  shield  as  if  intending  to  join  the  army.  Others 
are  never  happy  unless  they  know  all  the  latest  news :  "  What 
the  Thracians  and  the  Seres  (Chinese)  are  doing  " ;  "  Who 
has  just  married  a  notorious  widow  " ;  "  Whether  a  comet 
threatens  the  King  of  Parthia."  Others  are  utterly  selfish 
and  heartless ;  they  will  weep  at  the  loss  of-  a  pet  sparrow, 
but  treat  their  slave  girls  with  hideous  brutality,  and  "  let 
a  husband  die  to  save  a  lap-dog's  life."  Worst  of  all  are 
certain  women  actually  suspected  of  giving  their  unloved 
husbands  a  dose  of  poison  when  various  reasons  make  a 
divorce  inconvenient. 

74  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

60.  Divorces,  Easy  and  Frequent.  —  However,  divorce  is 
the  regular  outcome  of  very  many  unlucky  marriages.  Every 
Roman  girl,  when  her  parents  tell  her  "  We  have  chosen  for 
you  — " ;  knows  in  the  back  of  her  mind :  "  Marriage  will 
give  me  freedom.  If  this  wedlock  isn't  a  success,  my  next 
husband  will  probably  be  my  own  choosing." 

The  first  divorce  mentioned  in  Roman  history  was  in  231 
B.C.  when  a  certain  Ruga  put  away  a  truly  beloved  wife,  out 
of  a  high  sense  of  public  duty  —  because  she  bore  him  no 
children.  The  public  was  shocked  at  such  action  then,  but 
soon  it  was  shocked  no  longer.  Under  the  later  Republic 
lucky  was  the  nobleman  or  noblewoman  who  was  not  divorced 
at  least  once.  Cicero  divorced  Terentia  after  a  long  wedded 
life  seemingly  because  he  wanted  a  new  marriage  portion ; 
Cato  the  Younger  (immaculate  Stoic)  repudiated  his  wife  to 
please  a  friend,  then  calmly  took  her  back  again  at  the  friend's 

Under  the  Empire  things  hardly  seem  to  have  become  any 
better.  "  Trial  marriages  "  are  not  a  recognized  institution ; 
but  surely  they  exist.  It  is  direfully  easy  for  either  a  man  or 
woman  to  take  the  initiative.  No  court  proceedings  are 
necessary.  "  Take  away  your  property !"  spoken  formally 
and  before  witnesses  is  sufficient  to  break  up  the  household, 
although  the  more  usual  method  is  to  "  send  a  messenger  "; 
i.e.  dispatch  a  delegation  of  friends  to  the  other  party  to  break 
the  news.  Vainly  did  Augustus  try  by  legislation  to  make 
divorces  less  prompt  and  convenient.  The  whole  proceeding 
is  still  grievously  popular  and  simple. 

Of  course,  divorced  persons  are  under  no  stigma  in  the 
fashionable  set.  Many  a  time  a  couple  has  separated,  mar- 
ried elsewhere,  separated  again,  and  then  resumed  the  old 
wedlock.  Women  are  charged  with  "  flitting  from  one  home 
to  another,  wearing  out  the  bridal  veil  "  ;  and  indeed,  spicy 
instances  are  cited  of  ladies  who  boasted  "  eight  husbands 

Roman  Women  and  Roman  Marriages    75 

in  five  autumns,  a  fact  worthy  of  commemoration  on  their 
tombs  " ;  or  of  reckoning  the  years  not  by  the  annual  consuls 
but  by  their  annual  husbands. 

61.  Celibacy  Common :  Old  Families  Dying  Out.  —  Under 
such  conditions  what  wonder  many  a  rich  Roman  prefers 
celibacy !    They  often  proclaim  the  "  advantages  of  child- 
lessness/'    Old  men  of  property  without  children  are  fawned 
upon  with  offers  of  every  kind  of  service.     Social  and  even 
public   honors    are    thrust    upon    them.    Their    atria    are 
crowded  every  morning  with  genteel  visitors;    their  least 
wishes  anticipated  —  all  in  the  desperate  hopes  that  "  when 
their  tablets  are  opened  "  they  will  have  remembered  the 
swarm  of  lackeys  in  their  wills.     Indeed,  adventurers  have 
been  known  to  go  far  in  Rome  by  making  a  false  show  of 
wealth,  concealing  the  fact  they  actually  have  children,  and 
"  seeming  bilious  and  complaining  of  indigestion."    Every- 
body apparently  will  give  them  favor  or  credit.     It  is  a 
familiar  scandal. 

Under  such  circumstances  what  wonder  most  of  the  old 
Republican  families  -have  died  out  by  the  age  of  Hadrian, 
that  the  Calvi  feel  very  isolated;  and  that  of  the  strictly 
patrician  families  only  the  famous  Cornelii  appear  now  to 

62.  Nobler  Types  of  Women.  —  But  do  the  above  stories 
represent  the  true  moral  condition  of  most  women  in  Rome  ? 
Certainly  not,  or  society  could  not  exist.    In  the  first  place 
such  women  represent  the  rotten  crust  of  the  nobility ;   the 
ordinary  equestrian  and  middle-class  women  are  still  rela- 
tively modest  and  moral,  efficient  managers,  good  mothers, 
and,  if  they  are  poor,  hard  workers.     In  the  second  place, 
even  among  the  upper  Senatorial  nobility,  there  are  plenty 
of  matronse  of  the  very  best  type ;  true  props  to  their  hus- 
bands, wise  mothers  to  their  children,  kindly  mistresses  to 


A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

their  slaves.  Gratia  has  many  friends  whose  households  are 
schools  of  virtue,  and  many  a  Roman,  from  the  Imperial 
Augustus  down,  has  confessed  that  his  wife  has  been  his  tower 
of  strength. 

63.  Famous  and  Devoted  Wives.  —  People  still  talk  of 
the  famous  Arria,  wife  of  Csecina  Psetus,  who,  when  the 
Emperor  Claudius  ordered  him  to  commit  suicide,  and  he 
could  hardly  pluck  up  courage  for  a  manly  exit  from  life, 

as  an  example  plunged 
the  dagger  in  her  own 
breast,  then  held  it  out 
to  her  husband,  saying, 
"  Psetus,  it  doesn't  hurt 
me."  Her  own  daugh- 
ter, the  younger  Arria, 
and  Fannia,  the  wife 
of  the  philosopher  Hel- 
vidius  Priscus,  grossly 
murdered  by  Nero,  won 
hardly  less  reputations 
for  fortitude.  Pliny  the 
Younger  has  recorded 
(Boy  At-  a  more  humbly  born 
Italian  dame,  who, 
when  her  husband  was  suffering  from  incurable  ulcers,  but 
lacking  the  hardihood  to  kill  himself  alone,  tied  herself  to  him 
and  with  him  jumped  into  the  lake  at  Larium  so  that  both 
were  drowned. 

Fortunately  the  days  of  tyrannous  emperors  seem  long  since 
over.  Wives  usually  can  show  their  virtue  by  living  for  their 
husbands  and  not  by  dying  with  them.  Rather  lately  there 
passed  away  an  old  man,  Domitius  Tullus.  Vast  was  his 
wealth  but  it  brought  him  no  pleasure ;  he  was  so  crippled 
and  racked  in  every  limb  "that  he  could  only  enjoy  his  great 


Roman  Women  and  Roman  Marriages   77 

riches  by  looking  at  them.  He  was  so  helpless  that  he  had 
to  get  others  to  clean  and  wash  his  teeth."  He  had  a  young 
and  a  very  pretty  wife ;  but  so  far  from  neglecting  him  or 
trying  to  hasten  his  end,  she  kept  him  alive  for  years  by  ex- 
traordinarily faithful  personal  care.  Lately,  too,  the  vener- 
able Senator  Macrinus  has  lost  his  wife,  "  who  if  she  had  lived 
in  the  good  old  days  would  have  been  counted  an  exemplary 
woman.  They  lived  together  for  thirty-nine  years,  with 
never  a  single  quarrel  or 
disagreement. " l 

These  are  simply  random 
cases.  Of  course,  many 
people  know  the  tribute 
Pliny  the  Younger  paid  to 
his  own  wife  Calpurnia, 
much  younger  than  himself 
but  absolutely  devoted  to 
her  husband :  "  She  has  a 
keen  intelligence,  she  is  won- 
derfully economical,  and  she 
loves  me/*  He  went  on  to 
add  that  she  read  all  his 

literary  effusions  most  care-  *  SEATED  NOBLEWOMAN. 
fully,  sat  behind  a  curtain 
to  listen  when  he  gave  public  recitations  before  a  male  audi- 
ence, and  that  when  he  had  to  argue  in  court  had  relays  of 
runners  to  keep  her  informed  as  to  how  well  he  was  impress- 
ing the  judges.  When  the  twain  were  separated  she  "  would 
embrace  his  letters  as  though  they  were  himself/'  while  he 
(if  he  got  no  new  letters  from  her)  "  would  read  over  her  old 
letters  and  take  them  up  again  and  again  as  though  they 
were  new  ones." 

1  Both  of  these  instances  are  from  Pliny  the  Younger. 

78  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

64.  The  Story  of  Turia.  —  One  day  when  Gratia  had 
caught  young  Junia  overhearing  a  very  uncanny  story  of  a 
rich  old  lady  who  kept  a  whole  troupe  of  profligate  actors  for 
her  own  private  amusement,  she  took  her  out  upon  the  mag- 
nificent avenue  of  stately  tombs  along  the  Appian  Way  to 
visit  the  memorial  to  a  venerated  ancestress,  —  a  certain 
Turia  "who  had  lived  in  the  troubled  days  of  the  Second 
Triumvirate,  and  who  by  her  rare  courage,  fortitude,  and 
intelligence  had  saved  her  husband  the  noble  Vespillo  from 
disgrace  and  death. 

Turia's  husband  in  a  long  inscription  recited  how  she  had 
saved  his  life  in  the  Civil  Wars  at  sore  peril  to  her  own,  and 
how  she  had  lived  with  him  afterward  in  perfect  affection  and 
harmony,  although,  being  childless,  such  was  her  devotion 
to  him  that  she  actually  offered  to  let  Vespillo  divorce  her 
that  he  might  have  children  by  a  second  marriage,  promising 
very  literally  "  to  be  a  sister  "  to  his  new  wife.  But  her 
husband  repudiated  the  strange  idea  with  anger :  "  That  you 
should  have  ever  thought  it  possible  we  could  be  separated 
save  by  death  was  most  horrible  to  me.  The  one  sorrow 
that  was  in  store  for  me  was  that  I  was  destined  to  survive 

And  thus  the  tablet  concluded :  "  You  were  a  faithful  and 
obedient  wife ;  you  were  kind  and  gracious,  sociable  and 
friendly ;  you  were  assiduous  in  your  spinning ;  you  followed 
our  family  and  national  religious  rites  and  admitted  no  foreign 
superstitions;  you  did  not  dress  conspicuously,  nor  make 
any  kind  of  household  display.  Your  management  of  our 
house  was  exemplary;  you  tended  my  mother  as  carefully 
as  if  she  had  been  your  own.  You  had  innumerable  other 
excellencies,  common  to  the  best  type  of  matrons,  but  these 
I  mention  are  peculiarly  your  own."1 

1  For  a  complete  quotation  of  this  highly  interesting  tablet,  see  Fowl- 
er's "Social  Life  at  Rome,"  pp.  159-167, 

Roman  Women  and  Roman  Marriages   79 

Turia  has  been  dead  over  a  hundred  years,  but  there  are 
still  high-born  women  in  Rome  who  are  her  equals.  One  of 
them,  Calvilla,  has  a  fine  young  son  now  about  thirteen,  who 
owes  an  infinite  debt  to  his  mother,  and  whom  the  Emperor 
will  presently  select  as  the  heir  presumptive  to  the  throne. 
History  will  call  him  Marcus  Aurelius. 


65.  The  Type  of  Roman  Garments.  —  How  is  it  possible 
to  mention  Roman  women  and  Roman  weddings  without 
thoughts  also  of  Roman  costume  and  personal  adornment? 
Seldom,  indeed,  has  there  been  or  will  there  be  an  age  in  which 
fine  wearing  apparel,  and  jewelry,  and  elaborate  hair  dressing 
can  occupy  so  great  a  place  in  the  thoughts  of  both  sexes  as 
it  does  in  this  era  of  the  Roman  Empire. 

Good  clothes  and  fine  rings  are  in  fact  so  important  that 
if  you  do  not  possess  them,  on  many  social  occasions  you  must 
hire  them.  There  were  several  guests  at  Statilia's  wedding 
who  appeared  in  gala  robes  with  handsome  jewels  to  match. 
With  them  went  attendants  who  passed  for  confidential  freed- 
men ;  yet  it  was  whispered  they  were  actually  the  agents  of 
costume  purveyors  charged  to  see  that  every  hired  banquet- 
ing gown  and  topaz-set  ring  was  promptly  returned. 

Roman  garments  are  like  the  Greek:  they  are  usually 
wrapped  on,  they  are  not  like  those  of  a  later  age  which  must 
be  put  on.  Pins,  buckles,  and  brooches  usually  take  the  place 
of  buttons.  Sometimes,  however,  costumes  of  a  different 
type  can  be  met  with  in  the  cosmopolitan  crowds  in  the  fora. 
Occasionally  are  seen  Persians  and  Parthians  wearing  tight- 
fitting  leathern  casings  around  their  lower  limbs,  like  the 
articles  that  another  day  will  style  "  trousers  "  ;  and  more 
frequently  are  met  blond  or  red-headed  Gauls  wearing  cara- 
callce,  close-fitting  garments  with  long  sleeves,  slit  down  in 
front  and  reaching  to  the  knee.1  Such  dresses  are,  however, 

1  The  use  of  this  garment  gave  his  familiar  nickname  to  the  Emperor 
Bassianus,  "Caracalla,"  who  reigned  212-217  A.D.  The  Gauls  also  had 


Costume  and  Personal  Adornment       SI 

exceptional.     Loose  shawl-like  apparel  prevails  in  Rome  just 
as  with  nearly  all  the  classical  Mediterranean  peoples. 

66.  The  Toga,  the  National  Latin  Garment.  —  But 
Roman  tailors  have  never  been  servile  imitators  of  Sparta 
or  Athens.  Long  before  Greek  costumers  became  familiar 
visitors  by  the  Tiber,  the  Latin  folk  had  found  their  own  na- 


tional  garment  —  the  toga.  Every  true  Roman  is  proud  of 
the  right  to  wear  this  distinctive  garment,  and  its  use  is  pro- 
hibited to  non-Romans,  however  princely  or  wealthy.  A 
group  of  ex-slaves  has  just  come  from  the  praetor,  where  their 
master  has  emancipated  them  —  thereby  making  them 
Roman  citizens.  In  a  body  they  are  flocking  to  the  clothiers' 

a  kind  of  trousers.  This  was  counted  against  them  as  a  token  of  sheer 
barbarism:  brctcatos  nationes  ("trouser-wearing  peoples")  was  a  term  of 
extreme  contempt  in  Italy, 

82  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

stalls  when  they  can  emerge  as  arrogant  togati  —  lawful 
members  of  the  imperial  race.  An  unfortunate  senator  has 
lately  been  condemned  for  malfeasance  in  office  and  sentenced 
to  banishment.  It  is  not  the  least  of  his  penalty  that  he 
must  also  divest  himself  of  his  toga  :  it  can  never  be  worn  by 
a  degraded  exile.  Clients  have  to  wear  this  gown  de  rigueur 
when  they  visit  their  patrons  in  the  morning  —  he  would 
feel  insulted  if  they  omitted  it. 

Anybody  also  having  the  least  official  business  at  the  palace 
must  wear  the  toga;  and  the  reigning  Hadrian  has  just 
issued  an  edict  commanding  all  senators  and  equites  to  wear 
the  garment  on  the  city  streets  at  all  times  except  when  re- 
turning from  dinner  parties ;  while  the  distinguished  rheto- 
rician Titus  Castricius  has  lately  delivered  a  public  lecture, 
—  probably  by  imperial  request,  on  "  the  proper  costume  for 
senators  walking  about  Rome, "  urging  obedience  to  the  law. 
The  toga  in  short  occupies  a  place  in  Roman  manners  hardly 
equaled  by  any  other  garment  in  any  other  nation. 

Nevertheless,  many  a  client  or  nobleman,  as  he  dons  this 
mantle,  inwardly  curses  the  folly  of  the  men  of  "  the  good  old 
times  "  in  selecting  the  toga  as  the  national  garment.  It  is 
very  hot,  very  clumsy,  very  hard  to  drape  around  one's  self 
without  expert  assistance. 

Everybody  knows  the  story  of  old  Cincinnatus,  how  when 
he  was  out  plowing  and  the  committee  of  Senators  suddenly 
appeared  to  say,  "  You  are  named  dictator ;  make  haste  to 
save  the  imperilled  army  " ;  would  not  receive  them  until  his 
wife  had  run  and  fetched  his  toga  and  he  was  suitably  clad. 
In  his  day,  however,  the  toga  was  almost  the  only  garment 
worn  and  was  hardly  more  than  a  small-sized  woolen  shawl. 
Now  one  always  wears  a  tunica  as  a  house  and  undergarment, 
and  the  toga  has  been  growing  ever  larger  and  more  elaborate. 
Dandies  still  wear  togas  so  huge  as  to  justify  Cicero's  sneer : 
"  They  wrap  themselves  in  sails  not  in  togas."  But  even  for 

Costume  and  Personal  Adornment       83 

decent  citizens  the  garment  is  disagreeably  complicated. 
The  use  thereof  is  one  of  the  penalties  for  the  splendid  right 
to  boast,  "  Civis  Romanus  sum  I" 

67.  Varieties  of  Togas.  —  The  normal  toga  is  always  of 
wool  and  is  usually  of  a  dull  white,  the  natural  color  of  the 
wool;    but  in  the  Republican  days  seekers  for  election  to 
public  office  would  have  their  togas  bleached  to  a  conspicuous 
snowy  whiteness,  and  hence  their  name,  Candidati  —  "  extra- 
white  "  men.     Boys  wear  the  toga  proetexta,  a  toga  with  an 
elaborately  embroidered  purple  hem.    When  they  put  this 
off  on  reaching  manhood  (fourteen  to  sixteen)  they  proudly 
assume  the  pure  white  toga,  inwardly  hoping,  however,  that 
they  can  some  day  reappear  in  the  prcetexta  —  for  it  is  also 
the  official  robe  of  the  high  "  curule  "  magistrates. 

More  glorious  still  is  the  toga  picta  entirely  of  purple  and 
with  gold  embroidery,  which  can  be  worn  by  great  officials 
while  they  are  presiding  over  public  games,  and  which  is  used 
by  the  Emperors  on  all  state  occasions.  Quite  different,  of 
course,  is  the  gloomy  toga  pulla,  dyed  to  some  dark  color,  and 
worn  as  mourning  or  to  excite  sympathy  in  some  threatened 
calamity ;  e.g.  if  one  is  the  defendant  in  a  dangerous  law- 

68.  Draping  the  Toga.  —  The  plain  white  toga,  however, 
suffices  in  most  cases  for  most  Romans.    Of  course,  there  is 
a  vast  difference  between  the  dirty  shawls  not  without  moth 
holes,  which  some  of  Calvus's  clients  have  thrown  around 
them  the  morning  we  visit  his  mansion,  and  the  garment 
which  his  special  valet,  Parmenio,  drapes  about  him  when 
presently  the  Senator  announces,  "  I  must  visit  the  Forum/' 

Parmenio  has  to  be  assisted  by  no  less  than  three  other 
slaves  while  he  literally  winds  the  soft  white  mass  of  fine 
Milesian  wool  around  his  master.  When  skillfully  draped, 
the  toga  appears  to  be  an  easy  and  elegant  garment,  leaving 

84  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

the  right  arm  at  liberty,  and  flowing  around  the  person  in 
noble  lines  implying  dignity  and  deliberation.  Well  can  it 
be  called  "  one  of  the  handsomest  dresses  ever  worn  by  man"  ; 
but  who  can  tell  the  pains  required  to  get  the  huge  semi- 
circular fabric  into  shape.1 

Every  fold  has  to  settle  with  precision ;  every  corner  has 
to  trail  to  exactly  the  right  length ;  and  the  whole  has  to  be 
so  adjusted  that  Calvus  can  walk  easily  without  fear  of  dis- 
locating his  toga,  although  it  is  without  brooches  or  other 
fastenings.  When  at  last,  however,  all  is  ready,  the  results 
justify  the  effort.  Its  wearer  appears  every  inch  a  Senator : 
one  of  the  leaders  of  the  arrogant  imperial  race. 

69.  The  Tunica.  —  The  toga  has  to  be  worn  everywhere 
in  public,  but  the  instant  he  is  back  from  the  hot  Forum,  Cal- 
vus is  more  than  glad  to  fling  it  off.  Indoors  he,  with  all  other 
Romans,  wears  the  tunica.  The  tunic  is  a  comparatively 
new  garment  in  Italy.  In  early  Rome  probably  the  toga  was 
the  only  clothing  worn  at  all  except  a  simple  undershirt  or 
loin  cloth.  The  tunic  in  fact  resembles  closely  the  Greek 
chiton,2  and  is  made  much  the  same  for  men  and  for  women. 
It  is  a  kind  of  long  shirt  fashioned  by  sewing  two  pieces  of 
cloth  together,  with  holes  for  the  arms  or  with  short  sleeves, 
and  secured  around  the  waist  by  a  girdle.  Long  sleeves 
(Gallic  style)  are  not  unknown  but  they  are  accounted  very 
effeminate.  Without  the  belt  the  tunic  falls  well  down  to  the 
ankles,  but  it  is  easily  shortened  by  drawing  the  cloth  up 

1  Probably  there  were  simpler  and  more  complicated  forms  of  togas. 
The  first  were  apparently  shaped  like  an  irregular  semicircle.  We  hear 
of  extremely  large  togas  (in  bad  taste)  whereof  the  total  length  was  four 
yards  before  draping.  Experiments  in  certain  American  universities  at 
making  and  then  draping  a  toga  corresponding  in  effect  to  many  well- 
known  statues  have  amply  illustrated  the*  great  difficulty  of  putting  on 
the  garment  gracefully,  and  the  real  art  required  of  a  Roman  nobleman's 

*  See  "  A  Day  in  Old  Athens,"  p.  44. 

Costume  and  Personal  Adornment       85 

through  the  girdle  and  letting  it  tumble  around  the  waist  in 
a  loose  fold. 

In  warm  weather  the  tunic  is  often  the  only  garment  that 
a  Roman  wears  indoors.  In  cold  weather  he  will  put  a  sec- 
ond tunic  (or  two  or  three  extra,  as  did  Augustus)  under  his 
outer  one.  Like  the  toga  the  tunic  is  ordinarily  made  of 
white  wool,  the  finer  the  better,  but,  unlike  the  toga,  if  the 
wearer  is  of  the  nobility,  the  tunic  is  never  plain.  When  the 
owner  is  an  eques  a  narrow  strip  of  purple  (angusiidama) , 
if  a  senator  a  broad  strip  (laticlavia),  runs  down  the  entire 
length  of  the  garment  both  behind  and  in  front.  This  is  the 
official  token  of  his  rank,  that  all  men  may  reverence  his 
nobility,  and  one  of  the  chief  tasks  of  a  great  man's  valets  is 
to  hang  the  toga  so  that  the  purple  strips  on  the  tunic  will 
always  peep  out  conspicuously  from  the  undergarment. 

70.  Capes,  Cloaks,  and  Gala  Garments.  —  The  toga  and 
the  tunic  are  the  two  standard  male  garments  in  peace  times, 
but  they  do  not  meet  every  requirement.  On  festival  days, 
unless  the  imperial  edict  is  very  strictly  enforced,  most  of  the 
younger  citizens  will  be  seen  streaming  to  the  theater  or 
circus  in  the  lacerna.  This,  at  first,  was  merely  a  short  sleeve- 
less mantle  of  light  stuff  thrown  over  the  toga  to  protect 
against  dust  or  rain.  Presently  it  was  made  into  a  more 
festive  garment,  usually  of  brilliantly  dyed  wool,  and  was 
substituted  for  the  toga  outright.  There  is  a  hood  usually 
attached  and  it  is  convenient,  therefore,  to  wear  the  lacerna 
if  one  is  not  anxious  to  be  recognized  on  the  streets ;  it  is  so 
very  easy  to  conceal  one's  face. 

In  bad,  weather,  and  with  poor  country  people  in  general, 
however,  the  pcsnula  is  more  useful.  This  is  much  like  the 
lacerna,  a  sleeveless  ("  Shaker  ")  cloak  or  cape,  also  provided 
with  a  hood,  but  always  made  of  coarse  heavy  material. 
Most  travelers  wear  the  paenula,  and  it  is  a  common  gar- 
ment for  the  slaves. 

86  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

Like  the  psenula  in  turn  is  a  third  type  of  swinging  cloak, 
but  usually  cut  shorter,  —  the  sagum,  issued  to  soldiers. 
Sometimes  it  is  of  rough  material  for  the  severest  purposes, 
sometimes  it  is  a  truly  elegant  garment  for  officers,  floating 
in  bright  colors  over  flashing  armor.  The  generals  wear  a 
special  sagum  of  conspicuous  red,  the  paludamentum.  The 
sagum  is,  in  fact,  so  decidedly  the  military  cloak  that  the 
phrase  "  changing  the  toga  for  the  sagum  "  has  become  a 
regular  way  of  saying  "  being  suddenly  called  to  arms." 

One  can  see  many  Oriental  and  Greek-style  garments  in 
Rome,  but  native  gentlemen  have  only  one  other  article  of 
apparel  that  must  be  mentioned.  Everybody  ought  to  keep 
a  gauzy  and  brilliantly  dyed  synthesis  for  indoor  wear  at 
formal  dinner  parties,  to  wear  over  the  tunic.  It  can  never 
be  worn  outdoors  except  during  the  jolly  riot  of  the  Satur- 
nalia, but  indoors  it  is  light,  comfortable,  and  a  fine  con- 
trast to  the  heavy  togas.  Saffron,  amethystine,  and  azure 
are  the  favorite  colors,  and  at  ultra-fashionable  parties  it  is 
good  form  for  a  male  guest  to  rise  between  courses  and  put  on 
a  new  synthesis  of  a  different  hue,  held  ready  by  his  slaves, 

71.  Garments  of  Women :  the  Stola  and  the  Palla.  — 
Calvus,  of  course,  keeps  many  specimens  of  all  these  garments 
in  his  wardrobe.  The  average  poor  citizen  gets  along  with 
a  toga,  a  tunic  or  two,  and  probably  a  psenula.  Gratia's 
clothes  chests  and  presses  are  inevitably  more  ample  than  her 
husband's,  but  the  garments  of  a  Roman  lady  resemble  those 
of  a  Greek  —  they  are  far  more  like  the  masculine  garments 
than  are  those  of  women  of  a  later  age.  Gratia  really  seldom 
wears  any  save  three  kinds  of  garments :  her  tunics,  her 
stolse,  and  her  pallse. 

Roman  ladies  anxious  about  their  figures  cannot  squeeze 
themselves  with  corsets,  but  sometimes  they  do  wear  bands 
of  soft  leather  pressed  tightly  around  their  bodies.  Then 
comes  the  tunic,  extremely  like  the  inner  tunic  worn  by  the 

Costume  and  Personal  Adornment       87 

men,  but  it  fits  the  body  rather  more  closely ;  sometimes  it 
has  no  sleeves,  and  it  falls  only  to  the  knee  and  it  needs  no 
belt.  Over  this  single  garment  is  the  essential  dress  of  the 
Roman  matrona,  her  stola.  It  is  decidedly  more  elaborate 
than  the  outer  tunic  of  the  men.  In  the  main  it  is  not  sewn, 
but  is  held  together  by  a 
whole  series  of  clasps  and 
pins  —  giving  an  admirable 
opportunity  for  the  display 
of  gem-set  buckles.  There  is 
a  girdle,  passing  high,  above 
the  waist;  the  many  folds 
tumble  to  the  feet,  but  at  the 
very  bottom  there  is  an  em- 
broidered flounce  or  hem,  and 
with  noble  women  at  least 
this  flounce  is  always  of 
purple  as  is  the  border  around 
the  neck. 

Like  the  toga,  the  stola  is 
an  extremely  ample  garment, 
giving  its  owner  a  chance  to 
display  innumerable  graceful 
folds ;  and  like  the  toga,  good 
taste  requires  that  it  should 
usually  be  of  clear  white. 
To  wear  the  stola  is  the 
proud  privilege  of  Roman 

A  ROMAN   MATRON:  showing 
stola  and  palla. 


matrons,   and  in   it  no  woman  of  light  character  is  per- 
mitted to  flaunt  herself.1     Girls  put  on  the  stola  immedi- 

1  There  were  various  simpler  garments,  similar  to  the  stola,  permitted 
to  common  women  and  to  young  girls.  The  distinctive  feature  of  the 
stola,  forbidden  to  all  save  honorable  matrons,  seems  to  have  been  the 
lower  flounce,  reaching  to  the  feet. 

88  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

ately  after  their  marriage,  and  even  more  than  the  toga  it 
is  a  garment  of  grace,  permitting  beautiful  poses  of  statu- 
esque dignity. 

Outdoors  a  Roman  lady  will  wrap  herself  in  her  palla. 
This  is  merely  a  large  shawl,  although  often  with  elaborate 
arrangement.  Gratia's  maids  usually  throw  one  third  of  its 
length  over  her  left  shoulder,  letting  the  end  trail  almost  to 
her  feet,  while  the  remainder  is  carried  behind  the  back  and 
wound  skilfully  around  the  wearer,  although  if  a  head  cover- 
ing is  needed,  one  can  draw  up  some  of  the  cloth  and  form  a 
loose  and  convenient  hood. 

Every  woman  in  Rome  possesses  a  palla ;  and  the  wealthy, 
of  course,  own  whole  arsenals  of  them  in  every  possible  size, 
weight,  material,  color,  and  embroidery,  suitable  for  all  pur- 
poses from  winter  travel  to  snaring  susceptible  youths  beside 
one  in  the  theater. 

72.  Materials  for  Garments.  Wool  and  Silk.  —  So  much 
for  the  types  of  garments.  Needless  to  say  that  their  fabrics 
and  details  are  infinite.  Wool  is  still  the  standard  material. 
Even  now  "  in  these  degenerate  days  "  the  best  Roman 
matrons  keep  the  spindles  and  distaffs  working  with  their 
maids  in  the  peristylia,  and  make  up  a  large  part  of  all  the 
coarser  garments  needed  by  the  household.  Calvus  takes 
pride  in  wearing  and  exhibiting  a  really  handsome  toga  and 
in  telling  his  friends  "  my  Gratia  made  that "  ;  but  various 
other  senators  can  utter  like  boasts,  their  wives  merely  imi- 
tating such  empresses  as  Livia,  who  wove  all  Augustus's 
everyday  garments. 

On  the  great  villa  estates  the  slaves  are  kept  from  busy  idle- 
ness in  winter  by  weaving  cloth,  not  merely  for  themselves, 
but  for  their  masters'  families  in  the  city.  But  such  fabrics, 
ordinarily,  are  decidedly  coarse.  There  are  really  fine  wool- 
ens made  in  southern  Italy,  but  the  very  best  comes  from  the 
East.  "  Milesian  wool  "  is  a  trade  name  in  every  market, 

Costume  and  Personal  Adornment       89 

though  very  likely  much  of  it  actually  is  from  Tyre,  Sidon,  or 
Alexandria.  A  good  deal  of  linen  is  woven  up  into  comfort- 
able house  dresses.  Enough  cotton  comes  in  from  the  Orient 
to  make  it  no  rarity  for  superior  garments,  but  it  is  too  scarce 
for  any  common  use.  What  every  Roman  of  fashion  dotes 
upon,  however,  is  silk. 

Far  away  in  the  East  is  a  half-mythical  land,  Serica  or 
Seres.  Hardly  any  European  has  ever  penetrated  there,1 
but  caravan  traders  pass  along  small  parcels  of  a  wonderful 
material  alleged  to  grow  on  trees.  Garments  made  thereof 
are  incomparably  lovely ;  but  the  material  is  worth  its  full 
weight  in  gold  or  even  more.  As  a  result  the  stuff  is  spun  up 
into  the  flimsiest  and  gauziest  gala  dresses  imaginable,  and 
these  are  often  partly  made  of  cotton.  Seneca  has  written  in 
disgust ((  We  see  silken  garments,  if  indeed,  they  can  be  called 
'  garments  '  which  neither  afford  protection  to  the  body,  nor 
concealment  to  modesty."  For  all  that  women  like  Statilia 
and  her  mother  will  be  miserable  if  they  have  not  plenty  of 
"  Serician  tissues "  wherewith  to  float  into  the  Amphi- 
theater or  Circus  and  dazzle  their  rivals  in  a  city  where, 
as  complains  Juvenal :  "  Everybody  always  dresses  above 
his  means." 

73.   Styles  of  Arranging  Garments.    Fullers  and  Cleaners. 

—  With  garments  so  simple  in  their  sewing  as  togas  and  sto- 
las  there  is  little  call  in  Rome  for  exclusive  tailoring  establish- 
ments or  for  fashionable  makers  of  "  gowns."  Practically 
all  purchased  clothing,  however  costly,  is  "ready-made," 
although  the  shifting  styles  in  girding,  arranging  the  folds, 
buckles,  etc.,  are  infinite.  For  example,  there  is  a  special 
arrangement  of  the  toga  in  peculiarly  ample  folds  known  as 

1  About  twenty  years  after  the  reign  of  Hadrian,  Chinese  annals 
record  that  certain  "Roman"  (Grseco-Levantine?)  traders  actually 
reached  China,  and  gave  themselves  out  as  envoys  to  the  "Son  of 
Heaven"  from  "Antun"  (Antoninus  Pius). 

90  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

the  "  Gabinian  cincture,"  and  this  form  is  practically  required 
every  time  a  man  joins  in  an  important  sacrifice. 

If,  nevertheless,  the  dressmaker's  skill  is  simple,  there  is 
constant  demand  for  that  of  the  cleaner's,  whose  art  is 
brought  to  great  perfection.  The  huge  squares  of  fine  woolen 
seem  continually  going  to  or  coming  from  the  fullers'  estab- 
lishments. The  fullers  pass  for  peculiarly  jovial,  friendly 
people,  and  the  "  jolly  fuller "  is  a  stock  character  in 

Soap  is  a  Gallic  invention  and  it  is  just  coming  into  fairly 
common  use.  Garments  are  still  cleansed,  however,  with 
"fuller's  meal,"  a  kind  of  alkaline  earth.  Wherever  you  go 
around  the  humbler  parts  of  Rome  you  hear  a  monotonous 
song  being  trolled  over  and  over,  and  coming  usually  from  a 
pungently  smelling  establishment.  It  is  the  fullers'  tripu- 
dium  ("three  step  "),  sung  as  they  tread  out  the  clothes  in 
the  great  vats  all  day  long.  After  the  direct  cleaning,  a  fine 
garment  has  to  be  recarded  to  bring  up  the  soft  nap,  then  it  is 
carefully  smoothed  in  a  large  wooden  press  with  powerful 
screws.1  Every  household  can  do  its  own  laundry  work,  but 
in  no  later  age  will  the  "  cleaner  "  reign  with  the  supremacy 
which  he  enjoys  in  Rome.  His  justification  comes  when,  at 
great  public  assemblies,  thousands  of  togas  and  stolas  veri- 
tably shine  under  the  Italian  sun  like  newly  fallen  snow. 

74.  Barber  Shops.  The  Revived  Wearing  of  Beards. 
—  Rome,  too,  is  a  city  of  barbers.  Their  shops  abound 
everywhere  and  are  great  places  for  lounging  and  gossip. 
Most  men  have  their  hair  clipped  quite  short,  although  a 
good  many  dandies  delight  in  wearing  fringes  or  rows  of  short 
crisped  curls  (as  did  Nero)  often  reeking  with  pomatum. 
People  who  dislike  appearing  old  sometimes  use  black  hair 
dye ;  and  not  a  few  elderly  senators  are  said  to  wear  wigs. 

1  Very  like  a  modern  copying  press. 

Costume  and  Personal  Adornment       91 

The  barber  shops,  however,  have  recently  received  a  ter- 
rific blow;  and  loud  is  the  lament  of  the  entire  profession 
shared  in  by  all  those  private  "  house  barbers  "  who  care  for 
the  wealthy.  Since  not  long  after  300  B.C.  Romans  have  been 
smooth  shaven,  beards  ordinarily  being  counted  the  sign  of 
rusticity  or  of  poverty ;  although  teachers  of  philosophy  wore 
long  whiskers  as  a  kind  of  professional  badge.  The  day  when 


a  youth  shaved  off  his  first  beard  was  celebrated  almost  as 
elaborately  as  the  day  he  assumed  the  pure  white  "  manly  " 
toga.  But  to  general  consternation  the  reigning  Emperor 
Hadrian,  in  his  passionate  admiration  for  Periclean  Athens, 
has  astonished  all  Rome  by  appearing  with  a  full  beard.  Of 
course,  every  courtier  and  government  official  has  loyally 
imitated  him.  Of  course,  every  senator  and  eques  has  with 
equal  loyalty  done  likewise.  Feminine  protests  have  been 

A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

Costume  and  Personal  Adornment       93 

utterly  vain.  Beards,  sometimes  closely  trimmed,  sometimes 
long  and  venerable,  have  blossomed  on  almost  every  manly 
chin  across  the  entire  Empire.  Imperial  Rome  will  hence- 
forth continue  bearded  until  the  era  of  Constantine,  nearly 
two  hundred  years,  when  the  razor  will  suddenly  resume  its 
sway.  Such  is  the  power  of  Caesarian  example ! 

75.  Fashions  in  Women's  Hairdressing.  Hair  Ornaments. 
—  If  the  barbers  are  unhappy,  their  gentler  rivals,  the  orna- 
trices,  who  dress  the  hair  of  ladies,  still  reign  in  full  glory.  No 
Roman  girl  dreams  of  cutting  off  her  hair,  but  the  modes  of 
arranging  it  are,  as  says  Ovid,  "More  numerous  than  the 
leaves  on  the  oak  or  the  bees  on  Mount  Hybla."  Fash- 
ions come  and.  go  with  astonishing  rapidity,  and  we  have  seen 
how  Gratia's  statue  was  devised  so  that  a  new  coiffure  could 
be  substituted  for  the  old  (see  p.  53). 

As  a  rule  young  girls  bind  back  their  hair  in  simple  coils 
or  clusters  of  curls,  but  some  of  the  styles  permitted  to  them 
from  the  moment  they  become  matrons  defy  easy  description. 
The  prevailing  mode  rather  favors  building  up  the  hair  in  an 
elaborate  semicircular  mound  in  front  with  ringlets  and 
plaits  behind ;  but  many  a  lady  appears  with  a  perfect  tower- 
like  structure  that  would  collapse  instantly  were  it  not  an 
affair  compacted  with  extreme  art.  Of  course,  such  edifices 
put  a  premium  on  false  hair,  preferably  blonde  from  Germany, 
or  even  on  wigs.  Auburn  hair,  however,  is  extremely  fash- 
ionable, and  many  a  lady  buys  the  expensive  "  Batavian 
caustic  "  supposed  to  bleach  to  the  proper  shade.  Even 
very  modest  women  can  rejoice  in  great  treasure  chests  of 
hair  ornaments,  elaborate  hair  pins,  and  combs  made  of  pre- 
cious metal  or  fine  boxwood,  ivory,  and  tortoise  shell ;  besides 
all  kinds  of  snoods  and  wimples  usually  of  scarlet,  amethys- 
tine, or  ivory.  Noble  dames  will  keep  at  least  one  diadem, 
a  long  band  of  golden  chains  set  with  as  many  pearls  and 
jewels  as  possible.  On  simple  social  occasions  they  will  wear 

94  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

their  hair  in  a  net  of  gold  thread.  As  for  the  very  wealthy, 
they  have  one  simple  and  favorite  method  of  displaying  their 
riches  —  that  of  bidding  their  maids,  almost  every  day,  to 
sprinkle  the  whole  coiffure  liberally  with  pure  gold  dust. 

76.  Elaborate  Toilets.  —  Needless  to  say,  the  toilet  is,  to 
ladies  of  fashion,  a  slow  and  serious  business,  consuming  most 
of  the  morning.1  Statilia's  mother,  for  example,  who  is  now 
old  enough  to  have  to  guard  her  complexion,  has  as  her  first 
duty  that  of  suffering  her  maidens  to  peel  off  the  thick  layer 
of  cosmetic  paste  smeared  upon  her  face  ere  retiring.  She 
complains  that  her  husband  is  stingy  because  he  will  not  let 
her  imitate  Poppsea  (Nero's  Empress),  who  took  a  bath  in 
asses'  milk  every  morning  to  improve  her  looks. 

Such  a  lady,  of  course,  requires  two  maids  to  dress  her  and 
to  pile  the  masses  of  hair  upon  her  head  ;  the  pair  being  sup- 
ported and  directed  by  an  old  freedwoman  who  "  assists  at  the 
council/'  skilfully  improves  and  flatters,  and  who  perhaps 
can  do  something  to  assuage  the  domina's  fury  if  the  latter's 
silver  mirror  reveals  a  misplaced  curl,  and  she  stabs  the 
clumsy  maid's  arm  with  a  sharp  hairpin,  or  even  shrieks  out 
in  wrath  "  Bring  in  the  whipper ! " 

Blessed  with  such  "tiers  and  storys"  upon  their  heads, 
Roman  women  seldom  need  anything  else  out-of-doors  except 
a  veil  or  hood  in  extreme  heat  or  bad  weather.  There  are  no 
milliners'  shops  along  the  Via  Lata  or  Vicus  Tuscus.  The 
men  likewise  seldom  bother  about  hats,  and  everybody  on 
normal  days  goes  about  town  bareheaded,  although  travelers 
have  the  hoods  upon  their  psenulas.  Workingmen,  however, 
who  are  continually  exposed  to  the  weather,  wear  small 
conical  felt  hats  —  the  pilei;  and  travelers  who  find  hoods 

1  Apuleius,  writing  probably  a  little  later  than  this  time,  asserts  that 
a  lady,  with  no  matter  how  fine  clothes  or  jewels,  cannot  be  considered 
really  handsome  unless  an  equal  amount  of  attention  has  been  bestowed 
upon  her  hair. 

Costume  and  Personal  Adornment       95 

irksome  can  keep  off  the  sun  by  a  comfortable  broad-brimmed 
hat,  the  petasus. 

77.  Sandals  and  Shoes.  —  Shoes,  however,  are  more  neces- 
sary and  nobody  but  a  slave  goes  barefooted  around  the 
streets.  In  the  house  nevertheless  it  is  sufficient  to  wear  very 
light  and  simple  sandals,  mere  leather  soles  fastened  to  the 
foot  with  thongs ;  and  even  these  are  laid  aside  when  you 
stretch  out  on  the  couch  for  meals.  To  "  call  for  your  san- 
dals "  is  the  same  thing  as  "  leaving  the  table." 

Outdoors  one  often  puts  on  the  calceus,  which  is  practically 
like  the  shoe  of  other  ages,  although  fastened  not  so  much  by 


lacings  as  by  a  complicated  system  of  straps.  Women's 
shoes  are  much  like  men's,  although  inevitably  lighter  and 
more  often  made  of  brightly  colored  leathers.  High  magis- 
trates are  proud  to  wear  red  "  Patrician  shoes  "  with  an  extra 
elaborate  scheme  of  bands  and  an  ivory  ornament  "  C  " 
conspicuous  upon  the  outside  of  the  ankle.1  Ordinary  sena- 
tors wear  red  shoes  without  the  "  C  "  ;  and  equites  a  kind  of 
tall  boot  recalling  the  days  when  to  be  an  eques  really  implied 
being  a  horseman.  Soldiers  naturally  clatter  about  in  hob- 
nailed caligce,  ponderous  sandals  with  such  heavy  straps  and 

1  Called  the  "luna"  (crescent) ;  but  the  origin  is  really  unknown, 
although  attempts  were  made  to  trace  it  back  to  some  institution  of 


A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

thongs  that  they  become  practically  marching  boots.     As  for 
stockings,  they  are  all  but  unknown  in  Rome. 

78.  The  Mania  for  Jewels  and  Rings.  —  But  what  dandy 
and  what  fashionable  woman  is  content  to  appear  merely  with 
the  standard  quantity  of  clothing  ?  The  mania  for  jewelry 

is  inordinate.  Teach- 
ers of  oratory  have  to 
warn  their  pupils  as 
did  the  great  Quin- 
tilian  that  "  the  hand 
[of  a  good  public 
speaker]  should  not  be 
covered  with  rings,  and 
especially  these  should 
not  be  set  below  the 
middle  joint."  Ex- 
quisites of  both  sexes, 
in  fact,  often  wear  half 
a  dozen  rings  at  once ; 
all  with  as  fine  jewels 
as  possible,  and  with  a 
separate  "  light "  set  of 
rings  for  summer,  and 
a  "  heavy "  set  for 

The  jewelry  work  is, 
of  course,  exquisite. 
In  the  best  shops  by  the  Campus  Martius  can  be  seen  rings 
of  magnificent  chasing  and  carving,  set  with  onyx,  sard, 
banded  agate,  amethyst,  ruby,  and  sapphire,1  —  some  plain, 


1  Diamonds  were  not  unknown,  but  they  were  so  hard  to  cut  and  so 
scarce  that  they  figured  rather  seldom  in  Roman  jewelry.  They  do  not 
appear  in  the  list  of  the  twelve  precious  stones  given  in  Revelation,  XXI : 

Costume  and  Personal  Adornment       97 

some  engraved,  and  all  of  a  beauty  which  any  later  age  can 
envy.  Inevitably  there  are  pendants,  coronets,  and  innu- 
merable brooches,  and  buckles  every  whit  as  fine. 

In  addition,  every  Roman  of  equestrian  or  senatorial  rank 
will  wear  with  pride  one  perfectly  plain  gold  ring  (like  a  later 
wedding  ring)  as  the  token  of  his  own  nobility,  and  as  the 
memorial  of  a  time  when  a  simple  gold  ring  was  the  sign  of 
real  wealth.  Every  person  of  consequence  also  will  wear  a 
special  signet  ring,  often  an  intaglio  cut  with  some  mytho- 
logical character.  The  impression  of  this  frequently  takes 
the  place  of  a  personal  signature,  and  the  illicit  use  of  such  a 
ring  constitutes  the  gravest  kind  of  forgery. 

79.  Pearls  in  Enormous  Favor.  —  Time  fails  to  speak  of 
the  beautiful  cameos,  intaglios,  engraved  medals,  and  huge 
engraved  gems  which  are  the  triumphs  of  the  lapidaries,  and 
which  many  rich  connoisseurs  put  in  their  collections ;  but 
one  must  not  omit  certain  precious  objects  which  Romans 
seem  to  prize  above  all  others :  pearls.  The  more  pearls  ap- 
parently that  the  fashionable  can  spangle  upon  shoes,  dress, 
fingers,  and  (for  women)  upon  the  hair,  the  better.  The  great 
jewelers  will  say  that  they  sell  more  pearls  than  all  the  ordi- 
nary gems  put  together. 

The  imperial  councilors  protest  in  vain  at  the  ceaseless 
export  of  gold  to  India  to  pay  for  the  unprofitable  imports 
of  pearls  from  Taprobane  (Ceylon),  but  the  mania  for  such 
gems  continues.  People  still  tell  how  Julius  Csesar  gave  to 
Servilia,  the  mother  of  Marcus  Brutus,  a  single  weight  pearl 
worth  six  million  sesterces  ($240,000) ;  or  how  the  inordi- 
nately rich  Lollia  Paulina,  one  of  Caligula's  overnumerous 
wives,  appeared  at  a  dinner  party,  with  great  pearls  spangled 
over  her  unlovely  person  worth  all  together  every  whit  of 
forty  million  sesterces  ($1, 600,000) .*  There  are  no  such 

1  Stories  about  pearls  are  easily  multiplied :  e.g.  how  the  son  of  Asopus, 
a  famous  actor,  on  coming  into  a  vast  patrimony,  deliberately  dissolved 

98  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

tantalizing  collections  as  hers  now  in  Rome,  but  many  a 
lady  of  modest  means  has  in  her  coffers  a  few  pearls  large  and 
beautiful ;  and  the  cynics  declare  that  in  a  crowd  "  the  sight 
of  a  big  pearl  in  a  woman's  ear  is  better  than  a  lictor  to  clear 
the  way  for  her." 

80.  Perfumes :  Their  Constant  Use.  —  Nevertheless, 
something  else  is  needful  for  a  fine  toilet  beyond  clothes,  rings, 
and  pearls,  namely,  perfumes.  The  old-line  Italians  were  a 
coarse  and  hardy  folk ;  and  later  the  Orientals,  whom  slavery 
or  self-interest  has  brought  into  Italy,  have  a  truly  barbaric 
love  for  powerful  odors.  Even  modest  women,  therefore,  of 
reputed  good  taste  like  Gratia,  will  appear  in  public  charged 
with  scents  which  another  generation  would  find  highly 

There  is  no  alcohol  in  which  to  carry  perfumery.  The 
odorous  substances  have  to  be  dissolved  in  olive  oil,  making 
them  at  best  greasy  and  liable  to  grow  flat  and  obnoxious 
after  a  little  exposure.  But  perfumery  is  practically  indis- 
pensable. Men  use  it  hardly  less  than  do  women.  At  fine 
banquets  vials  of  perfumery  are  passed  among  the  guests  to 
pour  over  their  heads  and  hands.  The  foppish  youths  who 
wave  the  hair  on  their  heads,  and  render  the  rest  of  their 
bodies  sleek  and  shiny  with  depilatories,  simply  reek  with 
strong  perfumery. 

On  almost  every  important  street  you  can  find  the  little 
shops,  usually  kept  by  women,  where  are  sold  scented  pow- 
ders, fragrant  oils  for  bathers,  and  the  precious  bottles  of  gold, 
silver,  glass,  and  alabaster  for  the  unguents,  as  well  as  the 
standard  perfumes  themselves.  Profitless  it  is  to  catalogue 
these  last ;  Pliny  the  Elder  has  listed  twenty-one  standard 
varieties  mostly  named  after  favorite  flowers  (e.g.  narcissus) 

a  large  pearl  in  vinegar,  then  drank  it  down,  in  order  to  boast  that  he  had 
"tossed  off  a  million  sesterces  ($40,000)  at  one  gulp !" 

Costume  and  Personal  Adornment       99 

or  Oriental  spices  (cinnamon,  etc.).1  Every  funeral  demands 
its  supply  of  myrrh ;  every  sacrifice  a  quantity  of  Arabian 
frankincense.  The  perfume  trade  with  the  East  is  an  impor- 
tant factor  in  Roman  commerce,  but  very  many  of  the  pop- 
ular unguents  are  compounded  in  Italy.  The  great  city  of 
Capua  in  Campania  grows  rich  by  the  industry ; 2  and  the 
"  perfumery  interest "  is  one  of  the  prime  business  elements 
in  the  economic  life  of  the  Empire.  So  much  for  the  garments 
and  ornaments  which  typical  Romans  put  upon  their  persons. 
It  is  now  right  to  ask  concerning  a  more  important  matter 
still  —  what  do  they  have  for  dinner  ? 

1  Even,  less  profitable,  it  would  seem,  is  to  try  to  list  the  cosmetics 
wherewith  many  Roman  ladies,  like  their  sisters  of  all  times,  covered 
their  faces.     Rouge  was  used  in  great  quantities,  and  effeminate  young 
men  were  known  to  have  employed  it.    Eyebrows  were  blackened  with 
antimony ;   lips  were  reddened,  and  of  course  hair  dye  was  a  familiar 
article.    Propertius  suggests  that  some  women  went  so  far  as  to  trace 
over  the  veins  in  their  temples  with  blue.    Other  women  indulged  in 
small  black  patches  somewhat  as  did  English  ladies  in  the  days  of  Queen 
Anne :  —  "There  is  nothing  new  under  the  sun." 

2  In  Capua  there  was  a  whole  great  square  of  the  city,  the  Seplasia, 
given  over  to  perfumery  shops  and  their  wholesale  trade. 



81.  Romans  Fond  of  the  Table.  Gourmandizing.  The 
Famous  Apicius.  —  Seldom  can  there  be  another  age  when  the 
importance  of  good  eating  and  drinking  occupies  the  place 
that  it  does  in  Rome.  Vast  numbers  of  coarse-grained  people 
devoid  of  the  least  ability  to  criticize  fine  bronzes  or  to  com- 
prehend Homer  or  Virgil  can  go  into  ecstasies  over  superior 
oysters.  Epicurean  philosophers  can  argue  that  "  the  true, 
the  beautiful  and  the  good  "  are  to  be  as  genuinely  appre- 
hended by  the  enjoyment  of  ravishing  tastes  as  by  ravishing 
music.  Gastronomy  has  become  a  kind  of  supreme  science 
and  art,  and  no  slaves  sell  for  better  prices  than  truly  expert 

Repeatedly  huge  fortunes  have  been  ruined  merely  because 
their  possessors  wished  to  surpass  all  rivals  with  the  extrava- 
gant refinements  of  gluttony.  Since  69  A.D.  and  the  coming 
to  power  of  the  simpler  Flavian  Csesars  there  has  been  a 
fortunate  decline  in  many  absurdities,  but  there  are  still 
plenty  of  people  who  admire  and  envy  the  fame  of  Apicius, 
the  true  example  for  the  gourmand. 

Marcus  Apicius  flourished  in  Tiberius's  age ;  and  he  devel- 
oped a  positive  genius  for  inventing  new  sources  of  culinary 
delight.  Every  quarter  of  the  Roman  world  was  ransacked 
to  find  strange  objects  whereon  to  whet  his  appetite.  In 
Hadrian's  day  people  continue  to  eat  Apician  cakes  and  Api- 
cian  sauces,  such  as  are  described  in  his  encyclopaedic  cook 
books.  But  although  he  inherited  a  hundred  million  ses- 


Food  and  Drink 



102  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

terees  ($4,000,000),  at  last  his  steward  reported  glumly, 
"  You  have  only  ten  million  ($400,000)  left/'  How  was  it 
possible  for  a  true  gourmand  to  exist  in  such  poverty  ?  — 
Apicius,  therefore,  committed  suicide  rather  than  live  on 
commonplace  fare !  Many  will  tell  you  that  he  showed  the 
right  spirit  and  that  his  busts  stand  as  a  kind  of  inspiration 
for  dozens  of  rich  epicures  in  their  marble  triclinia. 

82.  Vitellius,  the    Imperial   Glutton.  —  One  of  Apicius's 
disciples,  Vitellius,  rose  to  Empire.     In  his  brief  reign  (April 
—  December  69  A.D.)  before  Vespasian's  troops  killed  him, 
he  taught  his  subjects  how  truly  a  man  can  live  to  eat.     He 
had  trained  himself  by  the  constant  use  of  emetics  to  devour 
four  heavy  meals  per  day.1     His  senatorial  friends,  obliged 
to  invite  him  to  their  houses,  never  dared  to  offer  him  a  dinner 
costing  less  than  400,000  sesterces  ($16,000).     His  brother 
gave  him  a  banquet  at  which  were  served  "  2000  choice 
fishes  and  7000  birds  " ;  but  he  returned  the  favor  by  giving 
a  feast  at  the  imperial  palace  in  which  he  served  his  favorites 
with  "  The  Shield  of  Minerva  "  —  a  kind  of  salad-supreme 
made  of  "  the  livers  of  charfish,  the  brains  of  pheasants  and 
peacocks,  the  tongues  of  flamingoes,  and  the  entrails  of  lam- 
preys/'   Warships  had  been  sent  as  far  as  the  ^Egean  or 
Spain  to  round  up  some  of  these  viands.     It  was  lucky  for 
the  treasury  that  his  reign  was  a  very  short  one. 

83.  Simple  Diet  of  the  Early  Romans.  —  And  yet  these 
worthies  gorged  and  guzzled  in  a  city  whose  founders  had 
been  famous  for  their  abstemiousness.    For  many  a  genera- 
tion even  prosperous  Romans  had  lived  very  largely  on  coarse 
bread  or  even  on  a  coarser  wheat  porridge  (puls).     Wheat 
porridge  was  what  supplied  the  brawn  and  courage  to  the 
legionaries  who  brought  to  ruin  Pyrrhus,  Hannibal,  Philip 

1  Vitellius  was  by  no  means  alone  in  this  disgusting  practice,  Seneca 
denounced  the  numerous  gluttons  who  "Vomit  that  they  may  eat,  and 
eat  that  they  may  vomit." 

Food  and  Drink 


of  Macedon,  and  Antiochus.  They  were  fortunate  if  their 
meal  was  not  made  of  barley,  later  counted  as  being  barely 
fit  for  inferior  slaves. 

Even  senators,  we  are  told,  were  glad  to  pick  a  few  green 
vegetables  in  their  gardens  to  help  out  the  porridge.  On 
feast  days  there  would  be  a  little  pork  or  bacon  from  the 
hanging  rack,  and  if  there  was  a  public  sacrifice  the  worship- 
ers might  each  take  home  a  lump  of  beef.  Such  was  the 
dietary  of  the  men  who 
originally  made  possible  the 
fortunes  of  an  Apicius,  and 
as  late  as  174  B.C.  there 
were  no  professional  cooks 
in  Rome.  Now,  however, 
there  are  plenty  of  purple- 
fringed  exquisites  who  "  can 
tell  at  first  bite  whether  an 
oyster  comes  from  Circeii, 
or  the  Lucerine  rocks  or 
clear  from  Britain;  or  at 
one  glance  discover  the  na- 
tive shore  of  a  sea-urchin." 

84.  Bread  and  Vege- 
tables. —  However,  there 
are  still  multitudes  who  have  to  be  content  with  very  simple 
fare,  and  for  them  bread  in  some  form  is  (as  with  all  the 
Mediterranean  peoples)  very  literally  "  the  staff  of  life."  In 
the  great  mansions  there  is,  of  course,  a  bakehouse  for  the 
huge  familia,  but  the  bulk  of  people  frequent  the  numerous 
public  bakeries,  near  which  the  mills  driven  by  patient 
donkeys  or  by  less  patient  slaves  are  incessantly  grinding 

The  standard  loaves  are  made  very  flat,  of  moderate  size, 
and  about  two  inches  thick,  their  backs  often  marked  with 


104  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

six  or  eight  notches.  There  is  a  cheap  bread  of  coarse  grain 
(panis  sordidus)  for  the  humblest ;  a  second  quality  (panis 
secundus)  for  better  class  purchasers,  and  also  the  very  white 
and  sweet  siligineus.  You  ask  for  "  Picenian  bread  "  if  you 
want  fine  biscuit,  and  for  libce  if  you  desire  smaller  rolls. 
At  feasts  there  will  be  wonderful  structures  of  pastry,  and 
by  use  of  honey  and  chopped  fruits  sweet  "  cake  "  truly 
delectable  comes  out  of  many  ovens. 

Vegetables  and  fruits  can  hardly  play  the  part  that 
they  will  in  later  gastronomy :  potatoes,  tomatoes,  oranges, 
lemons  —  all  these  grievously  wanting.  But  there  are  ad- 
mirable cabbages,  "  the  finest  vegetable  in  the  world,"  de- 
clared Cato  the  Elder,  and  turnips,  the  favorite  dish  of 
tough  old  Manius  Curius,  conqueror  of  the  Samnites. 
Around  Rome,  for  many  miles,  are  long  stretches  of  profit- 
able truck  gardens,  which  send  an  incessant  supply  of  arti- 
chokes, asparagus,  beans,  beets,  cucumbers,  lentils,  melons, 
onions,  peas,  and  pumpkins  into  the  city.  A  visitor  to 
Rome  should  promptly  accustom  himself  to  garlic;  and 
there  is'  a  certain  fashionable  rusticity  about  garlic  eaters,  as 
if  they/  were  trying  to  bring  back  the  flavor  and  odor  of 
"  the  good  old  times." 

85.  Fruits,  Olives,  Grapes,  and  Spices.  —  Italy,  of  course, 
is  an  excellent  fruit  country.  In  the  markets  are  apples, 
pears,  plums,  and  quinces,  besides  an  abundance  of  very  fine 
nuts,  such  as  walnuts,  filberts,  and  almonds.  Peaches,  apri- 
cots, cherries,  and  pomegranates  are  familiar,  although  some 
of  these  are  rather  late  introductions  to  the  peninsula  from 
the  East.  Of  course,  in  season  there  never  fail  magnificent 
olives  and  grapes  which  have  abounded  in  Italy  since  time 

A  great  demand  exists,  too,  for  all  kinds  of  salad  greens ; 
cresses  and  fine  lettuce,  also  edible  mallows.  Poppy-seed 
mixed  with  honey  is  a  standard  dish  for  desserts,  and  such 

Food  and  Drink  105 

seasonings  as  anise,  fennel,  mint,  and  mustard  can  be  bought 
in  all  the  innumerable  little  grocery  shops  scattered  over 
Rome.  In  the  larger  foodshops  can  be  had  likewise  those 
Oriental  spices  in  heavy  demand  by  the  epicures ;  and  also 
very  costly  imported  fruits,  often  preserved  with  great  ingen- 
uity in  an  age  that  knows  not  the  use  of  canning  processes, 
refrigerating  plants,  or  sugar. 

86.  Meat  and  Poultry.  —  The  demand  for  meat  has  been 
steadily  increasing  with  the  growth  of  luxury  and  economic 
prosperity.  Butchers'  shops  abound.  Poor  people  buy 
goats'  flesh,  which,  however,  is  completely  disdained  by  the 
finical.  Many  citizens  nevertheless  never  taste  beef  or  mut- 
ton except  when  it  is  distributed  in  the  form  of  a  sacrifice  at 
some  of  the  great  public  festivals ;  and  even  for  the  rich  beef 
is  not  in  extraordinary  favor. 

Pork,  however,  is  always  popular.  The  despised  Jews 
never  seem  to  the  Romans  to  show  their  national  folly  more 
clearly  than  in  refusing  to  eat  thereof.  Pork  in  all  forms, 
especially  bacon  and  pork  sausages  figure  in  every  important 
banquet ;  and  up  in  the  Apennines  in  the  vast  acorn  forests, 
uncounted  herds  of  swine  are  always  fattening  to  satisfy  the 
incessant  demands  of  the  great  capital.  Poultry  is  on  the 
whole  in  greater  demand  than  meat.1  Squawking  coops  of 
common  fowl,  ducks,  and  geese  are  on  sale  at  almost  every 
street  corner.  There  is  also  good  money  in  raising  upon 
country  preserves  quantities  of  partridges,  thrushes,  and 
grouse,  and  even  of  cranes.  In  Cicero's  day  peacocks  made 
a  very  fashionable  dish,  and  they  are  still  in  request, 
although  losing  their  old  popularity.  Hares,  rabbits,  venison 
are  comparatively  cheap,  and  everybody  with  a  price  can 
buy  wild  boar  at  the  better  purveyors'  shops. 

1  The  difficulty  of  preserving  fresh  meat,  once  butchered,  would  mili- 
tate against  its  use  as  compared  with  poultry  easily  killed  for  each 

106  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

87.  Fish  in  Great  Demand.  —  Rome,  however,  somewhat 
resembles  Athens  in  one  particular;  the  butcher  shops  are 
less  important  than  the  fish  dealers'  stalls.1  Poor  people 
eat  salt  fish  or  pickled  fish,  from  little  sardines  to  slices  of  the 
big  cybium,  as  forming  frequently  the  only  break  in  an  other- 
wise vegetarian  diet.  They  also  make  up  salt  fish  with  vari- 
ous vegetables  and  cheese  into  a  kind  of  fishballs.  A  man 
of  income,  however,  is  unhappy  without  his  fresh  fish  daily. 
This  creates  a  serious  and  expensive  problem  for  Rome. 
There  are  a  few  eels  and  pike  of  good  flavor  caught  right 
in  the  Tiber  between  the  bridges,  but  the  great  fish  supply 
must  be  brought  from  a  distance  —  often  in  warm  weather 
without  aid  of  refrigerating  plants.  Frequently  along  the 
road  from  Ostia,  and  very  often  down  the  Via  Appia  clear 
from  Puteoli  can  be  seen  large  wagons  tearing  in  hot  haste. 
They  bring  not  government  dispatches  but  fresh  fish  that 
will  frequently  command  absurd  prices  in  the  city. 

Often  all  kinds  of  sea-food  are  transported  still  alive  in 
small  tanks ;  and  sometimes  the  distance  whence  they  can  be 
imported  is  astonishing.  The  best  turbots  (large  flat  fish) 
come  from  Ravenna  on  the  Adriatic.  Eels  can  be  brought  in 
good  flavor  from  Sicily  and  even  from  Spain.  Gourmands  go 
into  ecstasies  over  oysters  from  Circeii  or  Baise,  but  of  late 
people  wishing  to  astonish  their  fashionable  friends  have 
actually  claimed  to  import  such  shellfish  from  Britain.  The 
real  fish  for  the  epicure,  notwithstanding,  is  by  common  con- 
fession the  noble  mullet.  The  flavor  of  the  best  specimens 
is  ravishing,  and,  for  a  truly  large  and  perfect  mullet,  the 
prices  paid  are  astonishing.  It  is  a  common  story  that  a 
certain  Crispinus,  a  satellite  of  Domitian's,  once  gave  6000  ses- 
terces ($240)  for  a  single  six-pound  mullet ;  "  More  than 
the  cost  of  the  slave-fisherman !"  indignantly  exclaimed  the 
outraged  Juvenal. 

iSee  "A  Day  in  Old  Athens,"  p.  20. 

Food  and  Drink  107 

Many  great  nobles,  however,  disdain  having  to  depend  on 
the  public  markets.  At  their  seaside  villas  they  have  huge 
salt-water  tanks  and  artificial  fishponds;  therein  mullet, 
turbot,  carp,  and  eels  can  be  bred,  fattened,  and  brought  to 
perfection,  and  on  the  day  of  a  feast  a  slave  will  hurry  them 
up  to  Rome  still  gasping. 

88.  Olive  Oil  and  Wine :  Their  Universal  Use.  —  Supple- 
menting the  salt  fish  and  bread,  the  poor  of  the  capital,  like 
all  genuine  Mediterranean  folk,  seldom  fail  to  get  their  oil 
and  wine.  Olives  are  gladly  eaten  green,  ripened,  or  pre- 
served in  great  quantities  with  salt  or  pickle,  but  their  great- 
est v,alue  comes  from  their  oil."  To  Rome  as  to  Athens  olive 
oil  is  not  merely  food ;  it  largely  takes  the  place  of  toilet  soap, 
and  it  supplies  also  the  most  common  illuminant  (see  "  A 
Day  in  Old  Athens,"  p.  177).  It  is  a  complete  substitute  for 
butter  in  the  average  dietary,  often  making  dry  or  moldy 
bread  palatable,  and  as  earlier  stated  (p.  98),  it  is  the  basis 
for  most  of  the  ointments  and  perfumery  wherein  the  average 
citizen  delights. 

As  for  drink,  practically  every  Roman  has  his  wine.  There 
are,  indeed,  beverages  made  from  wheat  and  barley,  and  also 
from  fermented  quince  juice,  but  for  daily  purposes  beer 
and  distilled  liquors  never  appear  at  Italian  banquets.  Cider 
is  sometimes  drunk,  and  a  little  so-called  "  wine  "  made  from 
mulberries ;  but  the  enormous  vineyards  existing  in  every 
part  of  the  country  testify  to  the  importance  of  ordinary 
grape  wine. 

Vintners'  stalls  are  almost  as  common  along  the  streets 
as  bakeries.  The  drink  they  sell  in  jars,  skins,  or  small 
flagons  is  sometimes  decidedly  resinous  after  the  Greek  fash- 
ion, and  in  any  case  is  extremely  sour,  so  that  a  large  admix- 
ture of  honey  is  often  required  to  make  the  favorite  sweet 
mulsum.  In  any  case  only  sheer  barbarians  will  drink  their 
wine  undiluted,  and  really  good  wine  can  stand  as  much  as 

108  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

eight  parts  of  water  to  one  of  itself  without  losing  too  much 

89.  Vintages  and  Varieties  of  Wine.  —  There  are  as  many 
varieties  of  wine  as  there  are  regions  around  the  Mediter- 
ranean. Each  produces  a  vintage  that  is  tolerable,  and  some 
are  highly  select.  Your  average  poor  plebeian  can  get  a  large 
jug  of  palatable  stuff  for  a  sesterce  (4  cents).  The  wealthy 
will  think  nothing  of  paying  heavily  for  amphor®  (tall  jars) 
of  choice  old  Setinian  (the  best  wine  in  Italy),  or  for  Faler- 
nian,  Albanian,  or  Massic  which  count  next  among  the  native 
vintages.  If,  however,  you  are  giving  a  formal  dinner  party, 
etiquette  dictates  that  at  least  one  imported  drink  should  be 
served.  It  makes  an  excellent  impression  to  bring  in  Chian, 
Thasian,  or  Lesbian  from  the  ^Egean,  or  even  Mareotian  from 
Egypt  and  the  splendid  Chalybonium  from  Damascus,  the 
delight  of  Oriental  kings. 

In  summer  time  wines,  of  course,  are  drunk  cold,  and  at 
luxurious  banquets  they  are  even  chilled  with  snow  water. 
In  winter,  however,  you  will  often  see  a  kind  of  bronze  samo- 
var, heated  by  charcoal,  used  for  preparing  calda,  warm 
water  and  wine,  heavily  charged  with  spices ;  and  at  the 
cheap  eating  houses  the  calda  counter  is  often  thronged, 
especially  on  chilly  afternoons.  Common  soldiers,  slaves, 
and  plebeians  of  the  lowest  class  have  a  special  beverage  all 
their  own,  namely  posca,  which  is  simply  vinegar  mixed 
with  enough  water  to  make  it  palatable.  It  probably 
forms  a  really  refreshing  drink,  if  one  can  acquire  the  taste 
for  it.1 

Time  fails  to  tell  of  various  rare  vintages  which  are  treas- 
ured by  the  epicures  as  if  worth  their  weight  in  gold.  In 
121  B.C.  there  was  a  wonderful  yield  of  wine  called  Vina 
Opimia  from  the  then  Consul  Opimius.  By  Hadrian's  day 

1  Posca  was  probably  the  drink  in  which  the  sponge  was  steeped,  that 
was  extended  to  Jesus  as  He  hung  on  the  cross. 

Food  and  Drink  109 

the  last  drops  of  this  precious  liquor  have  long  since  dis- 
appeared, but  men  still  discuss  the  traditions  of  its  nectarous 
flavor.  In  every  great  house  the  wine  cellar  retains  a  number 
of  web-covered  and  dirty  glass  jars  carefully  sealed  with 
gypsum,  and  with  labels  showing  that  they  were  laid  away 
perhaps  a  hundred  years  ago.  As  for  the  undesirability 
of  wine-drinking,  that  idea  has  hardly  crossed  any  man's 
head ;  and  Horace  in  Augustus's  day  voiced  a  universal 
thought  when  he  sang  that  good  wine,  "  Made  the  wise  con- 
fess their  secret  lore;  brought  hope  to  anxious  souls,  and 
gave  the  poor  strength  to  lift  up  his  horn." 

90.  Kitchens  and  the  Niceties  of  Cookery.  —  With  such 
attention  to  good  eating  and  drinking  a  Roman  kitchen 
necessarily  requires  an  elaborate  equipment.  Cook  stoves 
there  are  none;  but  there  are  extensive  masonry  or  brick 
hearths.  The  charcoal  fire  heats  the  stones  until  a  broad 
surface  is  glowing  and  ready  for  remarkable  culinary 
achievements.  The  head  cook  in  Calvus's  house  rejoices 
in  a  great  battery  of  copper  utensils  often  of  truly  elegant 
shape;  and  copper  ware  (more  expensive  than  tin,  but  far 
more  durable)  appears  in  every  Roman  kitchen.  There  are 
pastry  molds,  dippers,  ladles,  great  spoons,  little  spoons, 
baking  pans  for  small  cakes,  in  short,  everything  to  delight 
the  heart  of  the  housewife  of  another  age. 

Nobody  expects  us  to  investigate  rudely  the  peculiar  dishes 
evolved  in  the  kitchen  of  a  genuine  gourmand.  Cookery, 
the  disciples  of  Apicius  aver,  is  not  a  common  handicraft,  but 
the  noblest  of  sciences.  Only  a  thrice-initiated  epicure,  a 
man  who  has  carefully  trained  his  tongue  to  discriminate  the 
least  shades  of  taste,  and  his  fingers  to  endure  hot  viands  so 
that  he  may  pluck  out  the  morsels  at  precisely  the  proper 
temperature,  can  appreciate  many  of  the  refinements. 

Calvus  laughs,  indeed,  at  a  friend  of  his  who  lately  insisted 
on  serving  "  a  wild  boar  from  Lucania  caught  when  the  South 

110  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

wind  was  blowing,"  with  "  honey  apples  picked  under  a 
waning  moon,"  and  "  lampreys  caught  just  before  spawning." 
Such  people  will  also  explain  dogmatically  that  "  eggs  of 
oblong  shape  have  better  flavor  than  round  ones  ; "  and  that 
"  after  drinking  wine  the  appetite  is  better  stimulated  by 
dried  ham  than  by  boiled  sausage/'  or  that  "  it  spoils  the 
flavor  of  Massic  wine  to  strain  it  through  linen ;  but  you  can 
clear  it  by  mixing  with  the  lees  of  Falernian  and  then  adding 
the  yolk  of  a  pigeon's  egg." x  A  new  dish  coming  loyally  into 
favor  is  that  to  which  Hadrian  is  personally  so  partial  —  a 
huge  meat  pie  wherein  pheasant,  peacock,  sow's  udder,  and 
wild-boar  flesh  are  all  baked  up  together. 

Needless  to  say  many  coarse  fellows  who  boast  themselves 
"  epicures  "  really  are  merely  gluttons.  Their  appetites  have 
become  simply  animal.  Rome  has  plenty  of  twin-brothers 
to  that  Santra  derided  by  Martial,  who  at  a  banquet  "  asked 
three  times  for  boar's  neck,  four  times  for  the  loin,  then  for 
hare,  thrushes,  and  oysters."  After  that  he  bolted  sweet 
cakes,  and  finally  devoid  of  all  decency  hid  some  fruit  and  a 
cooked  dove  in  the  folds  of  his  gown  and  sneaked  home  with 
a  small  jar  of  wine  ! 

91.  A  Roman  Gentleman's  Morning :  Breakfast  (jenta- 
culum)  and  the  Visit  to  the  Forum.  —  However,  even  gluttons 
like  Santra  spend  all  the  earlier  part  of  the  day  under  condi- 
tions of  relative  abstemiousness.  Romans  never  eat  three 
hearty  meals  a  day ;  they  merely  stay  their  stomachs  until 
dinner,  the  event  they  ordinarily  look  forward  to  from  early 
morning.  In  Calvus's  house  everybody  is  supposed  to  rise 
at  gray  dawn.  Just  as  the  first  bars  of  light  are  making 
darkness  visible  a  decuria  (squad  of  ten)  of  slaves  under  a 
chamberlain  (atriensis)  brushes  down  the  atrium  and  peristyl- 
ium  before  the  master  and  mistress  rise  and  are  dressed  by 

1  A  long  and  curious  list  of  gourmand's  precepts  are  enumerated  iron- 
ically by  Horace  in  a  familiar  Satire  (Sat.,  bk.  II,  4). 

Food  and  Drink  111 

their  body  servants.  As  promptly  as  possible  these  noble 
folk  are  served,  often  in  their  chambers,  with  their  breakfast, 
the  jentaculum  —  merely  a  few  pieces  of  fine  bread,  sprinkled 
with  salt  or  dipped  in  wine,  and  with  a  few  raisins  and  olives, 
and  a  little  cheese  added.  If  Calvus  is  now  expecting  to  go 
on  a  journey  or  to  put  in  a  hard  day  debating  in  the  Senate, 
he  may  however  call  for  some  eggs  and  a  cup  of  heartening 

After  that,  the  clients  are  let  into  the  atrium,  greet  their 
patron  with  their  aves,  receive  his  counter  greetings,  and  get 
their  money  doles  for  service  (see  p.  150).  Next,  upon  an  or- 
dinary day,  Calvus  calls  for  one  of  his  second-best  togas,  and 
issues  forth.  If  the  Senate  is  convening,  he,  of  course,  seeks 
the  Curia.  If  not,  he  will  often  visit  his  banker  upon  the 
Via  Sacra  to  talk  over  investments,  will  call  at  the  mansion 
of  a  sick  friend,  will  go  to  witness  a  will  for  another  friend 
(a  very  familiar  ceremony),  or  will  go  to  one  of  the  Basilicas, 
where  still  another  friend  is  arguing  a  case,  and  expects  all  his 
best  acquaintance  —  the  more  distinguished  the  better  —  to 
sit  near  him  and  applaud  as  he  makes  his  points.  During 
all  these  rounds  Calvus  is,  of  course,  followed  by  some  two 
dozen  clients  and  freedmen  as  well  as  by  at  least  as  many 

92.  The  Afternoon  and  Dinner-Time.  Importance  of  the 
Dinner  (cena).  —  After  that  it  is  near  the  sixth  hour  (12  M.). 
All  over  Rome  work  ceases  almost  automatically ;  the  poorer 
classes  make  for  the  cook  shops  or  itinerant  food  venders; 
while  people  of  rank  either  go  home  or  accept  the  hospitality 
of  friends  for  the  mid-day  lunch,  the  prandium.  This  is  a 
real  meal,  although  taken  as  informally  as  possible.  The 
food  is  mostly  cold,  —  bread,  salads,  olives,  cheeses,  and 
meats  remaining  from  last  night's  dinner;  although  some- 
times there  are  hot  dishes,  such  as  hams  and  pigs'  heads,  and 
a  good  deal  of  common  wine  is  drunk. 

112  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

During  the  next  hour  everybody  who  can  possibly  spare  the 
time  takes  a  short  siesta.  Rome,  in  fact,  in  summer  seems  to 
have  gone  to  sleep  under  the  glaring  sun.  Then  for  the  hum- 
bler folk  toil  resumes ;  while  the  fortunate  classes  make  for 
the  great  baths  where,  indeed,  under  the  guise  of  sociability 
a  great  deal  of  real  business  can  be  transacted.  By  the  ninth 
hour  (3.  P.M.)  Calvus  and  Gratia  alike  have  usually  finished 
all  the  formal  duties  for  the  day  and  are  being  escorted  home- 
ward preparatory  to  the  standard  climax  of  every  four-and- 
twenty  hours  —  the  dinner. 

The  dinner  (cena)  is  always  eaten  at  home  or  at  the  house 
of  some  friend.  It  is  so  strictly  personal  an  affair  that  there 
are  almost  no  first-class,  handsomely  appointed,  public  res- 
taurants in  Rome,  although  there  is  a  superabundance  of 
cheaper  eating  houses,  yet  many  of  these  close  up  during  the 
afternoon.  There  are  almost  no  other  evening  entertain- 
ments —  no  receptions,  no  balls,  no  theaters,  no  concerts.1 
But  Italians  in  every  age  have  been  a  sociable,  talk-loving, 
gregarious  people,  and  the  dinner  seems  to  many  of  them 
apparently  the  "  be  all  and  end  all  "  of  existence. 

93.  Dinner  Hunters  and  Parasites  ("  Shadows ").  — 
Wealthy  and  popular  personages  never  have  to  bother  about 
the  dinner  problem ;  every  night  they  can  invite  whom  they 
desire,  or  be  sure  of  a  summons  to  a  congenial  board.  Plenty 
of  substantial  citizens  are  willing  and  happy  to  join  in  a  sim- 
ple family  meal  in  the  good  old  style,  the  master  reclining  on 
a  couch,  with  his  wife  in  a  somewhat  more  conventional  atti- 
tude beside  him,  the  younger  children  sitting  on  a  lower  couch, 
the  freedmen  and  more  important  slaves  arranged  on  benches 
at  a  respectful  distance. 

1  The  very  imperfect  means  of  illumination  alone  available  with  olive- 
oil  lamps,  would  make  many  modern  evening  entertainments  out  of  the 
question.  The  ancient  lamps  were  beautiful  in  shape  but  utterly  ineffec- 
tive for  lighting  large  halls,  indoor  theaters,  etc. 

Food  and  Drink  113 

The  city  nevertheless  abounds  in  shabby-genteel  individ- 
uals or  social  climbers  who  are  miserable  every  afternoon 
because  some  senator  or  an  eques  does  not  tell  them,  "  Come 
home  to  dinner !  "  For  example,  there  is  a  certain  ubiqui- 
tous Selius.  He  hangs  about  the  law  courts,  and  if  a  pleader 
is  rich  and  noble,  is  always  interrupting  with  a  loud  "  Excel- 
lent !  "  or  "  How  clever !  "  Some  afternoons,  however,  he 
is  seen  dragging  about,  "  the  picture  of  misery."  Has  his 
wife  just  died  or  his  steward  embezzled?  Not  so.  He 
"  must  dine  alone  at  home."  Thus  there  develops  a  type  of 
high-class  parasites,  "  shadows"  men  of  thick  hide  and  nimble 
wit  who  snap  at  every  possible  excuse  for  thrusting  into  a 
dinner  party,  and  who  are  willing  to  pay  for  the  least  honored 
place  on  the  couches  by  becoming  the  butts  of  the  jests,  or 
by  bringing  laughter  on  themselves  by  such  feats  as  swallow- 
ing whole  cheese  cakes  at  a  mouthful. 

94.  The  Standard  Dinner  Party  —  Nine  Guests.  —  In 
Athens  in  other  days  a  delightful  informality  prevailed  at 
banquets.  The  number  of  guests  was  seldom  fixed,  and  it 
was  quite  proper  to  intrude  two  or  three  more  at  the  last 
minute.  Romans  are  more  grave,  methodical,  and,  be  it 
said,  more  commonplace.  The  standard  size  for  a  dinner 
party  is  determined  by  an  almost  inflexible  custom  —  nine. 
Three  couches,  three  guests  to  a  couch ;  —  that  number  can 
concentrate  around  a  single  set  of  serving  tables,  and  let 
everybody  mingle  easily  in  the  conversation. 

Of  course,  you  can  get  along  with  fewer  guests,  but  it  is 
the  height  of  meanness  to  have  more  than  three  to  a  couch. 
For  a  larger  affair  one  must  therefore  have  two  or  three  or 
more  triclinia,  —  eighteen  or  twenty-seven  guests,  etc.  Un- 
like Athens,  however,  it  is  perfectly  proper  to  invite  high-born 
ladies  to  mixed  dinner  parties,  although  not  to  the  free  and 
easy  drinking  bouts  that  sometimes  follow ;  and  the  women 
apparently  recline  on  the  couches  with  perfect  decorum  and 

114  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

modesty.  Nevertheless,  "  stag  "  parties  are  extremely  com- 
mon, and  one  such,  of  a  very  conventional  nature,  Calvus 
gave  recently  in  honor  of  a  friend,  Manlius,  who  was  just 
departing  as  proqucestor  (assistant  governor)  of  Africa. 

95.  Preparing  the  Dinner  and  Mustering  the  Guests.  — 
The  guests  were  invited  by  personal  greetings  at  the  Forum 
or  Baths  of  Trajan  except  one  who  had  to  be  summoned  by 
slave  messenger  at  his  home.  However  two  places  on  the 
couches  have  been  left  vacant  deliberately  to  let  Manlius 
invite  any  two  acquaintances  he  desired  —  a  frequent  pre- 
rogative of  the  guest  of  honor.  The  dinner  was  to  be  a 
strictly  decorous  affair,  and,  therefore,  it  did  not  begin  before 
the  tenth  hour  (4  P.M.).  If  Calvus  had  desired  a  carouse,  he 
might  have  begun  a"t  3  P.M.  in  order  to  get  plenty  of  leeway 
for  a  long  riotous  evening ;  but  "  early  dinners  "  are  ordi- 
narily as  great  a  reproach  in  Rome  as  "  late  dinners  "  will 
be  later. 

During  the  morning  while  the  master-cook  was  tyrannizing 
over  his  scullions  in  the  kitchen,  and  evolving  various  tri- 
umphs in  pastry,  the  chamberlain,  an  upper-slave,  was  stand- 
ing whip  in  hand  over  a  whole  platoon  of  lower  slaves,  giving 
orders  like  a  centurion  :  "  Sweep  and  scrub  the  pavement !" 
"  Polish  up  those  pillars ! "  "  Down  with  all  those  spider 
webs  1 "  "  One  of  you  clean  the  plain  silver  ware,  and  another 
the  embossed  dishes ! "  The  whole  mansion,  therefore,  was 
furbished  up  thoroughly,  for  a  few  signs  of  dirt  before  dinner 
guests  is  the  most  disgraceful  of  shortcomings. 

By  the  tenth  hour  the  triclinium  was  in  perfect  order. 
The  three  elegant  sofas  with  purple  cushions  embroidered 
with  gold  thread  were  arranged  around  the  finest  citrus-wood 
table.  Small  pillows  were  laid  upon  the  cushions  to  mark  the 
positions  of  the  feasters  and  for  them  to  thrust  under  their 
elbows  as  they  lay  and  ate.  Presently  the  street  before  the 
vestibule  became  jammed  with  the  retinues  of  the  eight 

Food  and  Drink  115 

guests  as  each  swung  up  in  his  litter.  Calvus  greeted  each 
of  the  invited  friends  in  the  atrium,  while  the  bulk  of  their 
escorts  turned  back  home  to  return  again  with  torches  when 
the  party  should  be  over ;  but  each  guest  was  followed  into 
the  house  by  his  own  special  valet,  who  took  off  his  shoes  as 
soon  as  he  stretched  himself  out  upon  the  couch,  and  then 
stood  by  to  help  Calvus's  servants  serve  his  own  master. 
The  triclinium  was  thus  a  decidedly  crowded  place,  with  eight 
strange  slaves  present,  besides  a  mobilization  of  aH  the  hand- 
somest and  most  efficient  of  the  house  servants. 

96.  Arrangement  of  the  Couches :  Placing  the  Guests.  — 
The  guests  were  each  in  the  gay  synthesis  or  other  gala  cos- 
tume, and  quite  in  the  mood  to  obey  the  grave  nomendater, 
a  handsome  and  experienced  slave  of  the  host  who  pointed 
out  to  each  his  place  on  the  couches.  This  location  of  feast- 
ers,  however,  was  an  extremely  solemn  business.  How  many 
social  feuds  have  been  created  by  blunders  concerning  it! 
Nay,  if  the  guest  chances  to  be  a  public  character,  a  certain 
position  is  really  a  matter  of  legal  right  to  many  dignitaries 
and  its  refusal  possibly  can  give  matter  for  a  lawsuit.1  The 
three  couches  were  set  around  three  sides  of  the  table,  the 
fourth  being  left  open  for  the  service.  Approaching  from 
the  open  side  that  couch  to  the  right  was  reckoned  the  first 
(summus),  then  the  middle  one  opposite  (medius),  then  the 
one  on  the  left  (imus). 

The  best  place  of  all  was  reckoned  to  be  the  third  position 
on  the  middle  couch  "  The  Consul's  Post/' 2  and  here,  of 
course,  Manlius  was  consigned.  Calvus  by  custom  took  the 
host's  place,  on  the  third  couch,  but  nearest  the  guest  of 

1  The  love  of  "first-seats"  at  feasts,  denounced  in  the  New  Testament, 
was  anything  but  a  strictly  Jewish  vice ;  Greeks  and  Romans  were  every 
whit  as  bad  as  Orientals. 

1  So  given  because  here  dispatches,  etc.,  could  be  most  readily  handed 
to  a  consul  or  other  great  officer  if  he  were  among  the  guests. 

116  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

honor.  The  distribution  of  the  other  places  was  a  matter  for 
great  discrimination,  but  peace  was  kept  by  placing  the  two 
African  gentlemen  whom  Manlius  brought,  upon  the  middle 
couch  beside  him,  and  setting  the  young  eques  Nepos  (the 
junior  of  the  company)  at  the  outer  end  of  the  third  couch. 
All  nine,  therefore,  spread  themselves  out  unconventionally 
and  chattered  about  the  newest  jockeys  in  the  circus,  while 
a  troupe  of  slave-boys,  half -stripped  but  pomaded  and  curled, 
passed  around  silver  bowls  of  water  and  fine  towels  for  wash- 
ing and  wiping  the  hands.1  This  ceremony  happily  accom- 


plished,  a  tall  upper  slave  magnificently  arrayed  nodded 
from  the  doorway  to  Calvus  that  the  cook  had  declared  him- 
self ready,  and  Calvus  nodded  back  his  approval.  The  din- 
ner could  begin. 

97.  Serving  the  Dinner.  —  The  giver  of  this  feast  only 
desired  a  grave  and  conventional  dinner  for  sedate  people, 
and  a  strictly  normal  order  was  followed  without  epicurean 
niceties  or  a  low  revel  as  a  climax.  No  tablecloths ;  the  serv- 

1  Sometimes  a  guest's  personal  valet  brought  a  special  towel  for  his 
own  master.  Diners  of  an  objectionable  variety  were  occasionally 
charged  with  stealing  the  towels  or  napkins  if  the  host  supplied  them. 

Food  and  Drink  117 

ing  boys  running  to  and  from  the  kitchen  set  on  the  beau- 
tiful polished  surface  of  the  table  before  the  guests  first  a 
preliminary  course,  the  gustatio,  supposed  to  stimulate  the 
appetite.  On  silver  dishes  were  served  some  choice  crabs, 
salads,  mushrooms,  and  also  eggs.  The  guests  ate  these 
without  forks,  dexterously  picking  up  the  food  in  their  fin- 
gers. The  handsomely  embossed  silver  cups  were  handed 
about  filled  with  sweet  mulsum  properly  diluted  hi  order 
not  to  befuddle  the  intellect ;  after  that  followed  the  formal 
dinner  itself. 

At  really  elaborate  feasts  there  would  be  six  or  even  seven 
courses,  but  Calvus  had  merely  ordered  the  orthodox  number 
of  three  —  a  succession  of  daintily  cooked  meats  and  fish 
tastily  garnished  with  vegetables,  but  with  no  rarities  such  as 
heathcock  from  Phrygia 
or  sturgeon  from  Rhodes. 
The  honor  of  the  house, 
however,  required  that 
every  viand  should  be  ROMAN  SERVING  FORKS.  ~ 

arranged  carefully  on  its 

dish,  and  every  dish  upon  its  tray  by  a  special  slave,  the 
structor,  a  true  artist,  who  also  acted  as  master  carver,  cut- 
ting up  a  roast  of  boar  with  his  knife  keeping  time  to  a 
flute-player.  The  mere  fact,  however,  that  one  man  was 
allowed  both  to  arrange  the  dishes  and  then  to  do  the  carv- 
ing was  a  sign  that  Calvus  was  among  the  less  ostentatious 

Between  each  course  water  and  towels  were  again  passed 
about,  and  the  guests  washed  their  hands.  Finally  for  dessert 
there  was  brought  on  a  great  quantity  of  curious  pastry  — 
artificial  oysters  and  thrushes  filled  with  dried  grapes  and 
almonds ;  and  a  great  dish  whereon  stood  an  image,  made  of 
baked  dough,  of  the  orchard  god  Vertumnus,  holding  a  pastry 
apron  full  of  fruits,  while  heaped  around  his  feet  were  sweet 

118  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

quinces  stuck  full  of  almonds,  and  melons  cut  into  fantastic 

98.  The  Drinking  Bout  (Comissatio)  after  the  Dinner.  — 
This  concluded  the  regular  dinner,  but  Calvus  had  invited 
his  friends  (since  Manlius  had  much  to  talk  about)  to  stay 
to  a  comissatio,  a  social  drinking  spell  afterwards.  The  nine 
guests  rose  and  adjourned  to  the  host's  private  baths,  whence, 
after  they  had  refreshed  themselves  and  taken  a  turn  around 
the  colonnades  in  the  peristylium,  they  returned  to  the  tri- 
clinium to  find  that  the  slaves  had  changed  all  the  couch 

covers  and  pillows,  had 
swept  the  floor,  and  had 
actually  brought  in  new 
tables.  It  was  now  quite 
dark,  beautiful  silver 
lamps  gleamed  on  high 
against  the  fretwork  of 
the  ceiling  and  on  the 
tall  inlaid  sideboard 

DRINKING  CUP.  stood    two    £reat   silver 

tankards ;  one  was  filled 

with  snow ; 2  the  other  had  a  charcoal  brazier  beneath  it  and 
steamed  with  hot  water. 

If  Calvus's  party  had  now  been  composed  of  younger 
merrymakers,  some  one  would  have  called  out,  "  Let's  drink 
in  the  (  Greek  style  '  and  elect  a  king"  ;  and  everybody  would 
have  joined  in  throwing  dice  to  select  tlie  rex,  or  lord  of  the 
revels.  That  potentate  would  have  been  obligated  to  decide 
how  much  water  was  to  be  mixed  with  the  wine,  and  how 

1  This,  of  course,  was  a  very  simple  private  dinner.    For  the  menu  of  a 
really  extensive  banquet,  see  the  citation  from  Macrobius,  in  the  writer's 
"Readings  in  Ancient  History,"  Vol.  II  (Rome),  p.  253. 

2  Brought,  of  course,  from  the  summits  of  the  Apennines  with  infinite 

Food  and  Drink  119 

many  cups  must  be  drunk  to  the  health  of  each  feaster's 
lady  love,  and  to  arrange  the  forfeits,  riddles,  and  practical 
jokes  inseparable  from  a  jolly  evening.  If  the  party  had  been 
still  more  uproarious,  Spanish  dancing  girls  might  have  been 
provided  by  the  host,  or  a  corps  of  pantomimes,  acrobats,  or 
farce  players,  and  the  whole  scene  could  have  ended  in  a  very 
coarse  orgy. 

In  the  present  case  Calvus  had  decided  to  let  his  friends 
merely  drink  enough  to  loosen  their  tongues  and  to  exchange 
their  best  wit  and  wisdom.  The  slaves,  therefore,  brought  in 
with  decent  solemnity  the  little  images  of  the  family  lares, 
and  a  small  smoking  brazier,  and  Calvus  ^ast  a  trifle  of  meal 
and  salt  and  a  few  drops  of  wine  upon  the  fire.  "  The  gods 
are  propitious  ! "  announced  a  Slave  in  loud  voice,  after  which 
the  guests  preserved  a  reverent  silence  for  an  instant,  to  be 
followed  by  vigorous  conversation  the  moment  the  divine 
images  were  carried  out. 

99.  Distribution  of  Garlands  and  Perfumes.  Social  Con- 
versation. —  While  one  corps  of  slaves  was  passing  about  the 
wine,  asking  each  guest  whether  "  Hot?"  or  "  Cold?"  others 
were  distributing  wreaths  of  fragrant  flowers,  to  put  on  the 
forehead  and  even  around  the  neck  (by  their  odor  supposedly 
preventing  drunkenness)  and  also  little  alabaster  vials  of 
choice  perfumes  which  the  guests  immediately  broke  and 
poured  upon  their  hands  and  hair.  Then  followed  long  con- 
versations, grave  or  gay  according  to  the  mood.  Calvus  had 
not  provided  any  professional  entertainers,  but  all  through 
the  drinking  a  good  flute-player  and  a  good  harpist  hid  be- 
hind a  curtain  kept  up  a  soft  pleasing  melody. 

While  Manlius  and  the  older  guests  discussed  the  control  of 
the  Moorish  tribes  of  Numidia,  young  Nepos  and  one  or  two 
others  found  much  to  say  about  a  new  "  Thracian  "  who  had 
just  fought  at  the  Flavian  Amphitheater,  and  presently  all 
the  others  pressed  the  host  (knowing  him  to  be  a  little  vain 

120  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

on  the  subject)  to  show  some  new  moves  in  "  robbers  " 
(latrunculi,  a  board  game  with  men  extremely  like  checkers) 
which  he  had  evolved  with  peculiar  pride.  It  would  have 
been  good  form  also  to  have  played  at  making  impromptu 
verses,  or  at  matching  riddles,  but  for  a  Roman  gentleman  to 
indulge  in  anything  like  singing  a  song,  even  before  a  group 
of  friends,  would  have  been  undignified;  Nero  possibly 
shocked  public  opinion  even  more  by  appearing  openly  as  a 
common  theater  performer  than  he  did  by  killing  his  mother ! 

At  last  the  evening  ended.  It  was  only  8  o'clock  by  later 
reckoning ;  but  everybody  had  to  be  up  again  by  gray  dawn. 
The  streets  were  already  dark  and  deserted  save  by  prowlers 
and  the  police-watch.  te  My  shoes,  boy,"  called  Manlius 
to  his  valet.  All  the  other  guests  imitated  him,  and  already 
their  retinues  with  slaves  and  torches  were  crowding  in  the 
vestibule.  The  eight  diners  departed  after  thanking  Calvus. 
The  slaves  cleared  out  the  triclinium,  and  quenched  the  lights. 
Soon  the  whole  domus  was  asleep. 

100.  Elaborate  and  Vulgar  Banquets.  Simple  Home 
Dinners.  —  Such  was  a  very  decorous  and  ordinary  dinner. 
It  could  easily  have  run  off  to  greater  follies  and  vastly  greater 
magnificence,  useless  to  describe.  Space  lacks,  also,  to  de- 
scribe the  magnificent  imperial  banquets  at  the  palace  when  all 
the  gold,  glitter,  and  luxury  of  the  capital  is  on  display.  Cal- 
vus is  no  great  philosopher,  or  he  might  have  followed  the 
mode  and  insisted  upon  his  guests  conversing  solely  about 
the  "  Stoic  Conception  of  Duty" ;  or  the  "  Immortality  of 
the  Soul." 

A  host  of  another  type  might  have  imitated  certain  very 
mean  patrons  who  would  invite  poor  clients  to  fill  up  the  tri- 
clinium and  then  deliberately  serve  them  with  cheap  wine 
and  coarse  scrappy  food,  while  the  best  was  being  set  before 
himself  and  the  guests  of  honor.  Such  great  men  were  also 
equal  to  pettiness  of  stationing  special  slaves  behind  each 

Food  and  Drink  121 

less-favored  guest  to  watch  lest  the  latter  should  with  his 
finger  nails  pick  out  the  gems  set  in  the  drinking  cups.  Pliny 
the  Younger  has  already  recorded  his  emphatic  opinion  of 
noblemen  who  will  not  serve  dependents  with  as  good  fare 
as  they  get  themselves,  —  declaring  that  if  the  host  must 
economize,  he  should  eat  and  drink  nothing  better  that  night 
than  what  he  gives  his  clients  and  freedmen. 

Of  course,  many  an  evening  meal  is  far  simpler  than  the  one 
just  described.  If  the  triclinium  is  not  full,  Calvus  and 
Gratia  may  sometimes  offer  their  near  acquaintances  merely 
"  some  lettuce,  three  snails,  two  eggs,  spelt  mixed  with  honey 
and  snow,  olives  from  Spain,  cucumbers,  onions,  and  a  few 
like  delicacies."  Old  Roman  simplicity  still  —  but  every 
dish  will  be  perfect  of  its  kind,  and  the  cookery  excellent; 
and  even  the  modest  Calvi  are  none  too  fond  of  this  diet 
praised  by  the  philosophers.  Rome  is  not  merely  the  mistress 
of  the  world,  she  is  the  citadel  of  the  gourmands. 


101.  Enormous  Alien  Population  in  Rome.  The  "  Grae- 
cules."  —  Rome,  as  already  discovered,  is  a  city  with  an 
enormous  cosmopolitan  population,  and  in  that  population 
is  a  sadly  large  proportion  of  drones,  parasites,  and  selfish 
purveyors  to  the  vices  or  luxuries  of  the  rich.  The  influx 
of  aliens,  of  course,  impresses  one  at  every  turn,  be  the  visit 
to  obscure  Mercury  Street  or  to  the  famous  Old  Forum. 
*'  The  Syrian  Orontes  (quoting  lines  of  Juvenal  hackneyed 
already)  has  long  since  poured  into  the  Tiber,  bringing  its 
lingo  and  its  manners,  its  flutes  and  its  timbals,  and  its 
coarse  girls  who  hang  around  the  Circus." 

A  large  fraction  of  these  invaders,  however,  are  not  con- 
fessed Orientals,  but  oli vine-featured,  nimble  creatures  of 
very  Levantine  morality  who  like  to  be  called  "  Greeks." 
The  poet,  just  cited,  has  other  familiar  lines  deriding  their 
suppleness,  servility,  and  willingness  for  any  shift  promising 
favor  or  reward.  The  self-same  adventurer  is  ready  to  be 
""  grammarian,  orator,  geometrician,  painter,  trainer,  rope- 
dancer,  augur,  doctor,  or  astrologer,"  or  if  you  bid  " '  Grse- 
culus  '  to  mount  to  heaven  —  why,  to  heaven  he'll  go!'" 
They  squeeze  out  tears  or  split  with  laughter  at  a  sign,  and, 
of  course,  they  readily  sell  themselves  for  any  well-paid 

Do  these  creatures  prosper?  If  so,  Roman  citizenship 
comes  next.  They  change  their  names,  assume  the  toga, 
and  their  sons  or  at  least  their  grandsons  will  be  borne  along 
in  their  high  litters  toward  the  Senate  House.  There  is 


The  Slaves  123 

another  large  group  of  "  Conscript  Fathers  "  who,  Calvus 
angrily  tells  Gratia,  are  only  crude  Celts  from  Spain,  Gaul, 
or  even  distant  Britain.  Another  group  can  only  speak 
Latin  with  a  pronounced  North  African  accent.  There  is 
even  a  certain  dark-skinned  "  Julius  "  (a  good  Roman  name 
surely),  who  wears  his  broad  purple  stripe  proudly  enough, 
but  who,  —  every  one  swears,  —  was  born  far  up  the  Nile  in 
Egypt  —  "  How  did  he  get  the  Emperor's  favor !  "  At  first 
thought,  therefore,  Rome  seems  one  of  the  most  democratic 
cities  socially  in  the  world. 

102.  Strict  Divisions  of  Society.  The  Regime  of  Status. 
—  But  closer  acquaintance  discloses  the  fact  that  Roman 
society  is  utterly  undemocratic.  Wealth  to  be  sure  can  sur- 
mount many  barriers,  but  even  a  hundred-million  sesterces 
plus  imperial  patronage  cannot  quite  do  everything.  The 
whole  Roman  Empire  is  founded  not  on  the  basis  of  human 
brotherhood  and  equality,  but  on  "  piety"  "  Pious  JSneas  " 
is  the  hero  of  the  national  epic  poem.  But  what  in  fact  is 
this  piety?  Not  the  rendering  of  due  homage  to  the  gods 
merely,  but  the  bestowing  of  exact  justice  upon  every  man 
according  to  his  status  —  the  great  stratum  in  society  in 
which  the  law  has  placed  him,  and  whence  he  can  neither 
rise  nor  fall  without  important  formalities.  Are  you  brought 
into  court?  Instantly  the  question  is,  "What  are  you?" 
And  on  that  answer,  regardless  of  guilt  or  innocence,  your 
fate  will  largely  depend. 

The  Roman  Empire  in  reality  is  essentially  a  regime  of 
status  —  giving  to  every  man  a  certain  social  and  legal  due. 
This  accent  on  status  has  been  increasing  ever  since  Augustus 
founded  his  dominion ;  and  it  will  intensify  even  more  rapidly 
down  to  the  very  end  of  the  Empire. 

In  the  1,500,000  odd  people  in  Rome,  there  are  these 
six  well-defined  social  classes,  each  with  a  distinct  legal 
condition :  X  Slaves;  II.  Freedmen;  III.  Free  Provincials; 

124  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

IV.  Ordinary  Roman  Citizens,  or  "  Plebeians  ";  V.  Equites; 
VI.  Senators.  In  Rome  the  third  class,  of  course,  is  necessa- 
rily small,  being  made  up  solely  of  visitors  and  resident  aliens, 
some  of  whom,  if  notables  from  such  free  allied  towns  as 
Athens,  enjoy  excellent  protection  and  privileges.  Nearly 
all  the  freedmen  are  technically  Roman  citizens  but  are 
still  under  certain  civil  and  social  disabilities.  The  Plebeians, 
Equites,  and  Senators  are  all  reckoned  officially  as  "  ma- 
jores,"  persons  with  superior  legal  rights,  however  much  the 
two  upper  orders  may  scorn  the  one  inferior.  Socially,  how- 
ever, there  are  many  cross  sections,  with  the  upper  slaves 
of  rich  noblemen  despising  the  petty  tradesmen,  who  wear 
moth-eaten  togas,  and  the  higher  "  Csesarians  "  (slaves  at 
the  imperial  palace)  have  been  known  to  patronize  equites 
and  even  senators. 

103.  Vast  Number  of  Slaves.    Universality  of  Slavery.  — 

The  slaves,  however,  are  always  officially  at  the  bottom  of 
the  human  ladder.  Their  number  is  great,  making  up 
close  to  half,  if  not  quite  half,  of  the  population  of  Rome. 
They  are  not  required  to  wear  a  special  dress.1  Some  years 
ago  it  was  proposed  to  order  this  in  the  Senate,  but  the  mo- 
tion was  voted  down :  "It  would  be  dangerous  to  show  the 
wretches  how  numerous  they  really  were."  Ordinarily 
they  go  about  in  sad-colored  tunics  and  long  cloaks  like  most 
of  the  common  citizens,  or  else  they  wear  some  bright  livery 
devised  by  their  masters. 

Only  a  few  of  these  unfortunates  have  Italian  countenances 
and  can  speak  Latin  without  some  foreign  accent.  Plenty 
of  alien  adventurers,  it  is  true,  drift  to  Rome  as  willingly,  but 
probably  the  great  bulk  of  the  cosmopolitan  multitudes 
everywhere  observable,  even  if  free  at  present,  come  to 

1  They  could  not,  of  course,  wear  the  toga,  or,  if  female  slaves,  the 
matronly  stola. 

The  Slaves  125 

Latium  involuntarily  —  as  slaves  imported  to  wait  on  the 
masters  of  the  world. 

Almost  no  one  has  questioned  the  rightfulness  and  necessity 
of  slavery.  Seneca,  indeed,  has  written  that  no  man  can  be 
enslaved  beyond  a  certain  point  —  his  body  is  his  master's, 
but  his  mind  is  his  own.  Horace  has  written  grandiloquently 
"  Who  is  truly  free  ?  The  wise  man  alone ;  who  is  stern 
master  of  himself."  This  sounds  well  but  does  not  alter 
the  practical  results  of  a  situation  wherein,  for  example,  all 
farm  implements  are  solemnly  classified  in  the  handbooks 
under  three  heads :  I.  Dumb  tools  —  plows,  mattocks, 
shovels,  etc. ;  II.  Semi-speaking  tools  —  oxen,  asses,  etc., 
that  can  bellow  or  bray ;  III.  Speaking  tools  —  slaves  useful 
as  farm  hands. 

104.  Power  of  Master  over  Slaves.  —  Until  very  lately, 
before  Hadrian's  time,  these  "  Speaking  Tools  "  have  had 
rather  less  legal  protection  than  may  be  granted  to  horses  by 
the  "  humane  "  legislation  of  later  civilization.    The  reigning 
Emperor,  however,  a  remarkable  innovator,  and  tinctured 
with  the  Stoic  philosophy,  has  lately  issued  an  edict  that  a 
slave  cannot  be  killed  outright  by  his  master  without  some 
kind  of  consent  by  a  magistrate. 

Every  owner  of  human  bipeds  has  probably  grumbled 
that  "  discipline  is  now  made  impossible,"  but  the  new  law 
is  of  little  practical  help  to  the  slave.  His  master  can  still 
order  a  punishment  so  brutal  that  death  is  certain,  and  if 
he  should  murder  a  servant,  slave  witnesses  can  give  no  valid 
testimony,  and  almost  no  citizen  will  turn  traitor  to  his 
class  and  prosecute.  Half  of  Rome,  therefore,  continues 
in  the  absolute  power  and  possession  of  the  other  half. 

105.  The  City  Slaves  and  the  Country  Slaves.  —  Calvus 
and  Gratia  have  a  familia  of  about  one  hundred  and  fifty 
slaves  in  their  city  house.    Scattered  upon  their  villas  there 

126  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

are  always  at  least  as  many  more,  but  between  the  city 
slaves  and  the  rustic  slaves  there  is  a  great  gulf  fixed.  The 
first  class  utterly  despises  the  latter.  The  city  slaves  are 
mostly  soft-handed  ministers  to  their  owners'  luxuries.  The 
country  slaves  are  toiling  farm  hands  often  under  extremely 
severe  discipline.  When  the  master,  attended  by  a  great 
retinue  from  his  town  house,  sojourns  at  a  villa,  squabbling 
and  even  fights  between  the  two  contingents  are  extremely 
probable.  Let  a  serving  boy  become  too  insolent,  or  a  tiring 
maid  fail  in  her  duty  —  the  master  or  mistress  can  simply 
order,  "  Send  him  or  her  to  the  villa !  "  The  wretch  will 
then  beg  instead  to  be  flogged  in  sheer  mercy.  Banishment 
to  the  rustic  slave  colony  seems  a  mere  death  in  life. 

106.  Purchasing  a  Slave  Boy.  —  In  any  large  city  familia, 
the  purchase  of  new  slaves  to  replace  vacancies  caused  by 
death  or  otherwise  is  an  everyday  occurrence.  Very  lately 
a  new  errand  boy  was  wanted  by  Calvus,  who  could  not  con- 
descend to  purchase  such  a  menial  in  person ;  and  he  left 
the  task  to  a  competent  freedman,  Oleander.  The  latter 
conscientiously  went  through  the  great  slave  bazaars  near 
the  fora  and  especially  along  the  Ssepta  Julia,  the  great 
porticoes  lining  the  Via  Lata. 

Here  any  quantity  of  human  bipeds  were  on  sale  as  in  a 
regular  cattle  market.  There  were  numbers  of  little  stalls 
or  pens  with  crowds  of  buyers  or  mere  spectators  constantly 
elbowing  in  and  out,  and  from  many  of  them  rose  a  gross 
fleshly  odor  as  from  closely  confined  animals.  At  the  en- 
trance to  these  pens  notices,  written  on  white  boards  with 
red  chalk,  recited  the  nature  of  the  slaves  inside,  and  some- 
times the  hour  when  they  would  be  sold  at  auction.  Every 
nationality  was  represented  among  these  vendable  com- 
modities—  Egyptians,  Moors,  Arabs,  Cilicians,  Cappado- 
cians,  Thracians,  Greeks  and  alleged  Greeks,  Celts  from 
Gaul,  Spain,  and  Britain,  and  a  goad  many  Teutons,  fair- 

The  Slaves  127 

haired  creatures  from  beyond  the  Rhine.  They  were  of 
both  sexes  and  of  all  ages,  but  with  youths  and  grown-up 
girls  predominating.  As  Oleander  went  about  he  heard  a 
crier  announcing  that  a  new  coffle  of  Jews  was  just  being  put 
on  sale,  the  results  of  the  latest  success  of  the  Emperor's 
generals  in  capturing  one  of  the  last  rebellious  strongholds 
in  Palestine. 

107.  Traffic  in  the  Slave  Pens.  —  It  avails  not  to  dwell 
on  the  hideous  brutality  and  degrading  character  of  many 
of  the  scenes.  The  slave-dealers  were  men  counted  the  scum 
of  the  earth  socially,  but  the  vast  gains  from  lucky  specula- 
tion in  human  flesh  drove  many  shrewd  scoundrels  into  the 
trade.  At  last  Oleander  found  the  stall  he  desired.  Several 
boys  from  the  Black  Sea  region  were  about  to  be  knocked 
down.  They  did  not  seem  so  very  miserable.  Truth  to 
tell  their  barbarous  parents  had  probably  sold  them  in  way 
of  regular  trade,  and  the  boys  looked  forward  to  entering  a 
fine  Roman  familia  as  a  great  adventure. 

The  lads  stood  in  line  on  raised  stones,  stripped  almost 
naked  and  with  white  chalk  on  their  feet  as  a  token  that 
they  were  for  immediate  sale.  Oleander  and  other  would-be 
purchasers  examined  them  as  they  might  so  many  cattle; 
felt  of  their  muscles,  examined  their  teeth,  and  made  them 
converse  enough  to  be  sure  they  could  speak  fair  Greek  and 
a  little  Latin.  Another  buying  agent  was  accompanied  by  a 
physician  to  give  the  proffered  merchandise  a  regular  physical 
examination,  and  Oleander  in  his  turn  interrogated  the 
selling  clerks  very  specifically :  "  Did  they  warrant  the 
health  of  a  certain  boy,  especially  his  freedom  from  fits? 
Was  he  thievish  ?  Was  he  prone  to  run  away  ?  Did  he  get 
despondent  and  attempt  suicide  ?  "  l 

1  The  ancients  had  intense  fear  of  epilepsy,  supposedly  a  visitation  of 
the  gods.  The  questions  given  were  the  points  on  which  slave-venders 
had  to  give  assurance,  or  formally  to  waive  all  responsibility. 

128  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

One  ill-favored  youth  was  standing  with  a  tall  felt  hat  on 
his  head.  That  implied  he  was  being  sold  "  as  is,"  without 
the  least  warranty;  "An  incorrigible  thief"  went  the 
whisper,  and  the  great  welts  on  his  back  betrayed  repeated 
whippings.  If  the  sellers  failed,  however,  to  "  cap  "  their 
chattels,  they  had  to  answer  all  queries  truthfully,  and  take 
back  the  slave  if  he  developed  various  defects  within  six 
months.  Such  a  liability,  however,  was  hard  to  enforce. 
A  slave  trade  involved  all  the  points  of  shrewdness,  hard 
bargaining,  and  smooth  prevarication  of  the  proverbial  horse 

108.  Sale  of  Slaves.  —  At  last  a  bell  rang.  A  boy  whom 
Oleander  had  inspected  approvingly  was  stood  on  a  higher 
block.  The  glib  auctioneer  began  his  patter  to  the  little 
group  before  him :  "  The  lad's  clear-skinned  and  well-fa- 
vored from  head  to  foot,  a  well-bred  fellow  carefully  trained 
for  good  service.  Has  a  smattering  of  Greek  learning  — 
you  can  educate  him  for  a  secretary  if  you  want  to.  He 
can  also  sing  a  bit  at  dinners  —  not  professionally,  but 
enough  to  make  you  jolly  over  your  wine.  —  All  this  is  sheer 
and  simple  truth.  You'll  wait  long  for  another  such  bargain. 
Just  one  point  (with  a  deprecatory  smirk)  I  am  obliged  to 
warn  about  —  once  he  did  have  a  lazy  fit,  and  hid  himself 
for  fear  of  a  lashing,  —  Well,  he's  yours  for  a  mere  8000 
sesterces."  [$320.1 l 

"Take  2000,"  stolidly  retorted  Oleander,  naming  the 
standard  price  for  male  slaves  of  no  extra  qualities.  Counter 
bidding  and  much  chaffering  followed.  All  ended  when 
"  Croesus  "  (slaves  were  often  given  fancy  oriental  names) 
was  knocked  down  to  Cleander  for  4000  sesterces  ($160), 
a  very  fair  bargain  if  the  youth  had  not  been  praised  too 

1  This  is  almost  precisely  the  slave  auctioneer's  speech  in  Horace. 
{Epodes,  bk.  II,  1.)  —  If  the  dealer  had  failed  to  mention  that  the  boy 
had  once  tried  to  run  away,  he  would  have  been  legally  liable. 

The  Slaves  129 

extravagantly.  On  the  same  errand  the  freedman  also  pur- 
chased for  his  master  a  stout  Gaul,  needed  as  an  expert  mule- 
teer on  one  of  the  farm  villas,  —  such  a  fellow  if  at  all  capable 
was  well  worth  the  6000  sesterces  asked  for  him. 

The  next  day,  however,  it  was  announced  by  Gratia  that 
she  required  a  first-class  lady's  maid,  a  girl  not  merely 
versed  in  all  toilet  mysteries,  but  comely  to  look  upon  should 
she  have  to  appear  with  her  mistress  in  public.  Such  dam- 
sels commanded  a  high  price,  and  Gratia  and  Calvus  to- 
gether condescended  to  do  the  shopping.  Along  the  Ssepta 
Julia  they  visited  special  booths,  from  which  vulgar  idlers 
were  carefully  excluded,  and  where  human  chattels  of  the 
superior  grades  were  shown  to  bona  fide  purchasers. 

The  dealer  whom  they  visited  had  handsome  slave  boys 
to  act  as  statuesque  cup  bearers  and  worth  up  to  100,000 
sesterces  ($4000)  apiece;  he  also  had  a  truly  competent 
physician  at  the  same  price;  a  good  private  schoolmaster; 
two  very  expert  dancers,  and  a  remarkably  fine  cook  just 
thrown  on  the  market  by  a  bankrupt  ex-consul.  Girls  fit 
for  kitchen  service  could  be  had  in  the  common  stalls  as  cheap 
as  1000  sesterces  ($40) ;  but  Gratia  and  her  husband  had  to 
pay  a  round  25,000  ($1000)  for  a  truly  pretty  little  Greek, 
who  was  a  dexterous  hair-dresser  and  who  could  read  aloud 
to  her  mistress  with  a  good  Attic  accent. 

109.  Size  of  Slave  Households  (Familix).  Slave  Work- 
men. —  Thus  the  familia  of  the  Calvi  has  been  made  up. 
People  complain  that  owing  to  the  surcease  of  great  wars  the 
supply  of  cheap  slaves  fit  for  farm  service  is  running  down. 
Great  landowners  are  actually  being  driven  to  fall  back  on 
free  hired  labor  or  a  system  of  tenantry ;  but  kidnapping, 
the  sale  of  children  by  their  barbarian  parents,  the  ceaseless 
petty  wars  in  Africa,  Asia,  and  along  the  Rhine,  as  well  as 
the  sale  of  slaves  born  and  bred  on  the  Roman  farms  or 

130  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

mansions  themselves  1  keep  up  a  sufficient  supply  for  do- 
mestic service. 

The  very  poor  plebeians  are,  of  course,  slaveless  and  ser- 
vantless,  and  plenty  of  small  tradesmen  or  minor  officials  get 
along  with  only  two  or  three  slaves-of -all-work ;  but  it  is  im- 
possible to  be  a  "  somebody  "  and  to  exist  in  Rome  without 
at  least  ten  slaves.  The  social  ladder  and  the  size  of  the  f  amilise 
ascend  together  until  we  find  senators  and  very  rich  equites 
who  boast  many  more  than  two  hundred  in  their  city  houses 
alone.  "  How  many  slaves  has  he  got  ?  "  is  the  regular  for- 
mula for  asking  "  What's  his  fortune  ?  "  In  Augustus's 
day  there  was  a  very  wealthy  freedman  who  owned  4116 
slaves,  although  the  majority  of  these  were  scattered  on  his 
numerous  farms ;  but  well  known  is  the  story  of  Pedanius 
Secundus,  City  Praefect  under  Nero:  One  of  his  slaves 
murdered  him,  and  by  the  harsh  old  law  making  the  entire 
f amilia  liable  for  the  killing  of  its  master  by  one  member,  all 
of  the  slaves  in  his  Roman  mansion,  almost  400  in  number, 
were  actually  put  to  death,  although  his  farm  slaves  were 

There  are  many  slaves,  however,  in  Rome  that  are  not 
strictly  servants.  They  act  as  craftsmen  and  tradesmen 
of  every  kind,  sometimes  hired  out  by  their  masters  to  con- 
tractors, sometimes  working  on  their  own  account.  Custom, 
though  not  law,  entitles  them  to  a  part  of  their  earnings ; 
this  is  their  peculium  ("  special  property  ")  and  only  a  very 
harsh  owner  will  deprive  them  of  it.  Indeed  it  is  clearly 
understood  that  an  intelligent  slave  cannot  be  expected  to 
do  his  best  without  a  personal  incentive.  You  can  even  find 
savings  banks  and  really  large  commercial  enterprises  run 
by  slaves,  often  put  in  positions  of  great  trust,  but  such 

1  Probably,  however,  it  would  be  counted  discreditable  to  sell  a  slave 
born  in  one's  house  (a  vema)  unless  the  fellow  was  wholly  reprobate,  or 
the  master  was  in  great  financial  straits. 

The  Slaves  131 

persons  undoubtedly  have  an  understanding  about  being 
manumitted  if  they  are  faithful  and  successful. 

110.  Division  of  Duties  and  Organization  of  Slave 
Households.  —  In  the  house  of  Calvi  as  in  every  other  great 
mansion  one  is  impressed  with  the  multitude  of  attendants. 
The  master,  mistress,  and  their  friends  are  dependent  on 
every  kind  of  menial  service.  Before  Calvus  rises  from  bed, 
he  is  massaged  every  morning  by  an  expert  masseur,  and 
some  of  his  more  effeminate  friends  insist  on  having  not 
walking  sticks  but  handsome  slave  boys  of  convenient  height 


always  at  hand,  on  which  to  lean  as  they  move  about.  In 
a  well-ordered  mansion,  indeed,  it  seems  needless  really  for 
the  master  to  do  much  more  than  feed  himself  and  draw  his 
own  breath  —  the  servants  can  do  all  the  rest  for  him! 
A  f amilia  of  one  hundred  and  fifty  slaves,  such  as  Calvus's, 
requires  a  semi-military  organization.  Everything  should 
run  smoothly.  At  the  head  of  all  are  the  upper  slaves, 
proud,  arrogant  beings  with  their  own  body  servants,  the 
commissioned  officers  of  the  army.  The  procurator  (some- 
times a  freedman),  who  does  the  purchasing  and  outside 
business;  the  dispensator,  who  manages  the  storerooms; 
the  atriensis,  who  acts  as  general  chamberlain,  and  especially 

132  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

the  silenta/rius,  who  enforces  "  silence "  and  general  dis- 
cipline form  the  heads  of  this  category.  They  are  often 
petty  tyrants,  and  the  newcomer  Croesus  will  have  far  more 
to  fear  from  their  harshness  than  from  Calvus,  who  will 
hardly  know  him  by  sight. 

The  staff  at  large  is  carefully  split  up  into  decurice  (squads 
of  ten)  each  under  its  special  chief.  There  are  the  house 
cleaners,  the  table  retinue,  the  kitchen  force,  the  chamber 
boys  and  maids,  the  keepers  of  the  wardrobes,  the  master's 
valets,  the  mistress's  maids,  the  special  attendants  of  Calvus's 
children,  the  litter  bearers,  the  corps  of  messengers  —  each 
forming  a  separate  contingent.  The  master,  too,  has  several 
secretaries,  expert  copyists  and  readers,  and  a  librarian. 
There  are  several  slave  physicians  although  their  duties  are 
laigely  confined  to  the  familia ;  the  masters  -  will  call  in  fash- 
ionable free  professionals  for  their  own  serious  ills.  The 
two  sexes  are  about  equally  divided,  and  a  great  many  slaves 
are  respectably  if  informally  married,1  although  a  familia 
is  anything  but  a  school  of  social  virtue. 

111.  Discipline  in  a  Well-Ordered  Mansion.  Long  Hours 
of  Idleness.  —  In  such  a  mansion  the  master  and  mzourtoS 
have  little  acquaintance  with  the  lower  run  of  the  human 
beings  over  whom  they  possess  absolute  power.  Calvus, 
however,  knows  his  upper  servants,  his  favorite  valets,  and 
his  first  secretary,  and  being  a  genuinely  kindly  man  has 
come  to  esteem  them  and  trust  them  familiarly ;  and  it  is  the 
same  between  Gratia  and  her  confidential  maids. 

The  other  slaves  they  treat  fairly  humanely,  all  things  con- 
sidered, but  absolutely  impersonally  —  their  presence  is 
to  be  taken  for  granted  like  articles  of  furniture,  and  their 
personal  problems  are  ignored.  In  the  peristylium  there  is 
always  posted  a  bulletin  board  informing  the  slaves  of  the 

1  Slave  unions  had  no  legal  status,  but  only  a  harsh  and  tactless  master 
would  ordinarily  break  them  up. 

The  Slaves  133 

nights  when  their  master  is  going  out  to  dinner,  and  although 
Calvus  does  not  imitate  certain  very  haughty  individuals 
by  trying  to  give  all  his  orders  through  signs  and  never  ad- 
dressing a  menial,  it  is  good  breeding  to  speak  to  ordinary 
slaves  as  seldom  and  then  as  curtly  as  possible,  just  as  one 
should  not  waste  words  addressing  a  yoke  of  oxen. 

Roman  house-slaves  have  their  sorrows  but  they  need  not 
ordinarily  fear  two  mortal  evils  —  hunger,  or  overwork. 
They  have,  of  course,  their  own  dining  quarters  and  are  kept 
on  sufficient,  if  simple  rations  of  meal  cakes,  salt,  oil,  com- 
mon wine,  and  a  little  fruit.  Butcher's  meat  they  seldom 
touch,  except  as  the  kitchen  staff  get  the  leavings  from  the 
banquets,  although  the  upper  servants  naturally  fare  more 

As  for  slaves'  working  hours,  they  are  absurdly  short. 
Every  servant  has  some  limited  appointed  task.  When 
that  is  finished  nothing  else  is  expected  of  him,  and  to  require 
other  duties  would  not  merely  make  the  master  unpopular 
with  his  servants,  it  would  stamp  him  before  his  equals  as 
an  extremely  mean  and  sordid  man.  Thus,  on  very  many 
days,  Calvus's  six  litter  bearers  have  absolutely  nothing  to 
do.  On  the  many  nights  that  he  and  Gratia  dine  out  the 
great. kitchen  staff  is  concerned  mainly  with  the  dice-box. 
The  boudoir  maids  are  usually  idle  from  the  time  their  mis- 
tress is  dressed  until  she  must  dress  again  for  dinner.  All 
this  makes  for  gossiping,  gaming,  and  for  the  worst  kinds 
of  busy  idleness. 

112.  Inevitable  Degradation  Caused  by  Slavery.  Evil 
Effect  upon  Masters.  —  Are  these  "  speaking  tools  "  very 
miserable?  Calvus's  familia  is  not  exceptional  in  that  a 
tolerably  kindly  relation  often  exists  between  owner  and 
owned.  The  Stoic  philosophy  is  making  its  impression, 
and  there  are  plenty  of  theoretical  argument  that  "  a  slave 
is  also  a  man  "  and  entitled  to  humane  treatment.  A  mas- 

134  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

ter  or  mistress  who  is  habitually  cruel  is  frowned  on  socially 
as  might  be  a  man  accustomed  to  abuse  his  horses. 

Nevertheless,  the  status  of  a  slave  is  always  morally  de- 
grading. He  feels  himself  a  mere  chattel.  Whatever  he 
enjoys,  he  enjoys  merely  on  suffrance.  Any  sort  of  iniquity 
is  condoned  in  his  mind  "  if  the  master  orders  it,"  and  he  is 
likely  to  be  honest  and  faithful  more  through  the  fear  of 
harsh  punishment  than  because  of  any  high  ethical  motives. 

On  the  other  hand  just  because  slavery  has  perforce  its 
brutal,  soul-destroying  elements,  it  is  almost  equally  evil  for 
the  master.  It  is  seldom  good  for  a  man  to  have  the  lives 
often  of  hundreds  of  fellow  beings  in  his  power;  or  to  be 
relieved  of  every  possible  kind  of  honest  exertion  by  a  swarm 
of  officious  menials.  Furthermore,  slavery  being  inevitably 
so  brutal,  masters  often  live  in  terror  of  a  mutiny  by  the 
brutes  themselves.  "  So  many  slaves,  so  many  enemies'9 
is  a  standard  maxim ;  not  always  true,  but  true  enough  to 
excuse  many  horrid  practices. 

The  slave  revolt  led  by  Spartacus  in  73  B.C.  is  now  half 
forgotten  in  history,  but  that  rebel  gladiator  had  later  several 
almost  as  successful  imitators.  Every  now  and  then  some- 
thing happens  which  makes  senatorial  blood  run  cold.  Only 
in  Trajan's  day  there  was  one  Lagius  Macedo,  an  ex-prsetor, 
a  cruel  and  overbearing  master,  indeed,  who  was  beaten  to 
death  by  his  slaves  while  he  was  bathing  at  his  Formise 
villa.  The  wretches  were  all  crucified,  of  course,  but  (as 
wrote  Pliny  the  Younger  just  after  it  happened) :  "  You 
see  what  we  masters  are  exposed  to ;  and  nobody  can  feel 
safe  because  he's  an  easy  and  mild  master ;  for  it's  sheer  vil- 
lainy, not  premeditation,  that  prompts  our  murder." 

Another  danger,  especially  under  evil  emperors,  comes  from 
the  incessant  presence  of  slaves  at  the  most  private  affairs  of 
their  lords,  their  willingness  to  tattle,  to  assist  informers, 
and  often  to  help  ruin  their  masters  outright  in  return  for 

The  Slaves  135 

freedom  and  reward.  "  The  tongue  is  the  worst  part  of  a 
bad  slave/'  runs  a  familiar  saying,  and  even  an  honest  and 
high-minded  man  must  shudder  at  the  idea  of  having  all  his 
intimate  doings  passed  on  to  delight  his  enemies. 

113.  Punishment  of  Slaves.  —  Under  these  circumstances, 
and  with  so  many  slaves  who  are  undoubtedly  by  origin  and 
nature  unreliable  if  not  incorrigible,  every  large  house  has 
its  small  private  dungeon,  and  also  a  low-browed  wolfish 
creature  who  serves  as  jailer  and  official  "  whipper."  Even 
in  Calvus's  house  he  finds  occupation,  for  in  so  large  a  familia 
some  luckless  boy  or  maid  is  often  caught  loitering  or  pilfer- 
ing, and  gets  a  dose  of  the  many-lashed  scourge  —  at  the 
orders  of  the  upper-slave  managers.1  Under-slaves,  indeed, 
think  nothing  of  a  lashing  beyond  its  mere  pain ;  there  is  no 
disgrace,  it  is  all  part  of  one's  lot  in  life. 

There  can  be  much  worse  things  than  this  in  many  houses. 
Servilia,  one  of  Gratia's  acquaintances,  often  beats  her  tire- 
women cruelly  with  the  flat  of  her  bronze  mirror  for  the  most 
trivial  offenses.  Ambustus,  the  new  sedile,  lately  ordered  a 
boy  to  get  one  hundred  stripes  merely  for  being  slow  in  bring- 
ing hot  water.  The  rich  widow  Lepidia  so  enjoys  having 
her  slaves  flogged,  that  she  makes  the  whipper  actually  do 
his  pitiless  work  in  her  dressing  room,  while  she  is  reading 

1  Of  course,  in  a  large  slave  household  frequently  there  were  unruly 
elements  who  often  had  to  be  punished  privately,  when,  if  free  men,  their 
actions  would  have  landed  them  in  the  police  courts.  The  stripes  might 
be  inflicted  as  a  mild  correction  with  the  cane,  or  leather  strap,  or  more 
severely  with  the  terrific  flagellum  (loaded  whip),  usually  with  three 
chains  set  with  metal.  A  sound  lashing  with  this  could  cause  death 
(see  below,  p.  137).  The  prejudice  against  brutal  whipping  and  the 
like  was  growing  steadily,  thanks  to  the  advance  of  the  Stoic  philosophy, 
even  before  the  triumph  of  Christianity.  Juvenal  denounces  those  who 
inflict  outrageous  floggings  for  slight  faults.  "Does  a  man  set  his  son  a 
good  lesson  by  calling  in  the  torturer  and  having  a  slave  branded  for 
stealing  a  couple  of  towels  ?  Does  such  a  man  hold  that  the  bodies  and 
souls  of  slaves  are  of  the  same  elements  as  our  own  ?  " 

136  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

the  "  Daily  Journal "  (Ada  Diurna,  see  p.  282)  and  hav- 
ing her  face  rouged.  Many  a  slave  has  been  whipped  to 
death  because  of  some  small  folly  which  sent  his  master  or 
mistress  into  a  rage,  and  noblemen  have  been  known  to 
keep  huge  flesh-eating  carp  in  their  fish  ponds,  and  to  toss 
in  a  recalcitrant  slave  occasionally  to  improve  the  flavor 
of  the  fish,  although  such  actions  disgust  all  decent  people. 

114.  Branding  of  Slaves.      Ergastula  —  Slave  Prisons.  — 
If  a  slave's  offense  is  too  great  to  be  rewarded  by  a  mere 
whipping,  and  yet  does  not  provoke  the  death  penalty,  there 
are  plenty  of  intermediate  punishments.     Toiling  around 
Calvus's  atrium  is  an  ill-favored  lad  with  the  scars  of  brand- 
ing barely  healed  on  his  forehead :    "  FVR  "  he  is  marked 
("  Thief  ") l.    He  is  taking  the  place  of  another  youth  who, 
to  cure  extreme  laziness,  has  been  sent  for  a  month  to  the 
"  mill  gang  "  —  chained  to  the  great  lever  which  turns  the 
grist  mill  and  forced  to  toil  all  day  like  a  hard-driven  ass  — 
an  excellent  cure  for  idleness. 

This  fate  is  not  so  bad,  however,  as  what  befell  one  of  the 
eques  Pollio's  valets,  a  bright  clever  lad,  who  foolishly  became 
too  pert  to  his  master.  In  a  fit  of  anger  Pollio  ordered, 
"  Give  him  six  months  in  the  ergastulum"  The  soft-handed 
boy  was,  therefore,  not  merely  shipped  off  to  severe  farm 
labor,  itself  utterly  repulsive,  but  was  obliged  to  work  in  the 
fields  in  a  chain-gang  along  with  the  very  scum  of  slave-crimi- 
nals ;  always  in  fetters,  lashed  by  brutish  keepers  themselves 
slaves,  and  confined  at  night  in  underground  prisons  (ergas- 
tida)  that  were  mere  kennels. 

115.  Death  Penalties  for  Slaves.     Pursuit  of  Runaways. 
—  If  a  slave  really  deserves  death,  there  are,  of  course,  two 
standard  methods  of  capital  punishment,  both  very  degrading 

1  "Three  Letter  Man"  or  "Man  of  Letters"  became  a  common  taunt 
among  slaves. 

The  Slaves  137 

as  well  as  fearful.  Everybody  knows  about  crucifixion  with 
its  hours  and  perhaps  days  of  hideous  agony;  but  more 
common  and  nearly  as  painful  is  death  on  the  furca.1  The 
victim's  head  is  placed  at  the  opening  of  two  "  V  "-shaped 
beams  and  his  arms  tightly  lashed  upon  them;  then  the 
professional  floggers  strike  the  wretch  with  their  loaded 
whips,  the  leaden  balls  worked  into  the  thongs  making  them 
a  terrific  weapon,  until  death  comes  as  blessed  relief.  It 
has  been  a  long  day  since  there  has  been  an  execution  at 
Calvus's  house,  but  some  years  ago  a  Spanish  boy  who  mur- 
dered an  upper-servant  perished  thus  under  the  lash.  There 
is,  however,  a  much  simpler  way  of  disposing  of  criminal 
slaves,  one  bringing  a  certain  return  to  their  masters,  — 
namely,  to  sell  them  to  the  givers  of  public  shows  to  train 
as  gladiators  or  merely  to  set  in  the  arena  to  give  sport  to 
the  bears  or  lions. 

Of  course,  under  such  conditions  slaves  will  often  try  to 
run  away.  They  seldom  really  succeed,  however,  unless  they 
are  persons  of  marked  intelligence  and  can  make  off  with  con- 
siderable money.  The  Roman  Empire  is  one  vast  police  unit, 
unattached  strangers  are  everywhere  scrutinized  carefully  and 
when  a  slave  disappears  a  reward  is  promptly  offered.  Only 
now  a  crier  has  gone  down  Mercury  Street,  with  a  crowd  after 
him,  as  he  proclaims :  "  Disappeared  from  the  public  baths,  a 
boy  aged  about  sixteen.  Free  and  easy  habits.  Curly  hair.  Good- 
looking.  Answers  to  name  of  Giton.  A  thousand  sesterces  to 
anybody  hailing  him  back  to  Aulus  Sulpicius  near  the  Temple 
of  Ops,  or  to  anyone  who  will  betray  his  whereabouts!  "  2 

If  Giton  is  retaken,  he  can  thank  the  gods  if  he  is  merely 
flogged  almost  to  death,  and  is  not  also  given  a  year  in  the 

1  A  slave  might  be  lashed  to  a  furca  for  some  hours,  as  a  minor  penalty 
without  desire  to  put  him  to  death. 

2  An  actual  proclamation  from  Petronius. 

138  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

Naturally  slaves  can  only  testify  in  court  by  their  master's 
consent  and  under  torture,  although  the  reigning  humane 
Emperor  has  just  issued  a  decree  limiting  its  use  to  the  last 
resort,  Hadrian,  also,  contrary  to  the  usage  in  Nero's  day, 
has  ordained  that  if  a  man  is  murdered  by  his  slaves,  only 
the  slaves  near  the  actual  scene  of  crime  are  to  be  tormented, 
and  he  has  actually  banished  a  certain  matron,  Umbricia,  for 
"  abusing  her  slave  girls  most  atrociously  for  trivial  reasons." 
All  this  perhaps  dimly  foreshadows  a  new  day;  but  what 
human  chattel  can  wait  to  see  the  abuses  of  slavery  whittled 
down  by  the  law  across  the  centuries  ? 

Have  the  slaves  along  Mercury  Street  any  nearer  hope? 
Possibly.  The  other  day  many  of  them  saw  in  the  front 
benches  of  honor  at  the  Circus  a  man  of  dignity.  His  hands 
glittered  with  sardonyx  rings;  his  lacerna  was  of  Tyrian 
purple ;  his  shoes  were  scarlet,  his  hair  reeking  with  costly 
essences ;  a  great  train  bowed  and  cringed  to  him.  But 
his  forehead  was  covered  with  "  numerous  white  patches 
like  stars  " ;  "  sticking  plaster/'  everybody  whispered,  to 
cover  up  the  FVR  once  branded  on  his  countenance.  He 
was  an  ex-slave,  an  exalted  freedman,  who,  a  couple  of  dec- 
ades before,  had  stood  on  the  auction  block,  but  now  was  a 
mighty  power  in  Roman  high  finance. 



116.  Manumission  of  Slaves  Very  Common.  —  A  Roman 
slave's  legal  position  may  be  miserable,  but  usually  he  is  not 
under  that  fearful  stigma  of  race  and  color  weighing  upon 
the  slaves  of  another  era.  His  complexion  and  his  brain 
power  do  not  differ  essentially  from  his  master's.1  If  he  is 
a  Greek  or  Levantine,  often  his  mental  acuteness  may  be 
greater  than  that  of  his  lord.  An  intelligent  slave  under 
not  too  harsh  a  master  will  devote  himself  to  the  latter  in 
every  possible  way,  expecting  pretty  certainly  the  great  re- 
ward for  faithfulness  and  zealous  service  —  freedom.  Of 
course,  many  dull  hardened  wretches,  especially  upon  the 
farms,  will  die  as  the  toiling  chattels  they  have  lived ;  but 
freedom  comes  often  enough  to  make  manumission  some- 
thing for  which  to  hope  eagerly. 

Often  the  death  of  a  master  is  the  signal  for  a  grand  en- 
franchisement of  all  the  older  members  of  his  familia.  It 
costs  nothing  thus  to  reward  faithful  service  at  the  expense 
of  your  heirs ;  and  it  is  a  fine  thing  to  have  a  long  file  of 
newly  created  freedmen,  all  wearing  the  tall  red  caps  of 
"  liberty,"  march  in  your  funeral  procession.  Everybody 
will  praise  your  "  generosity/'  and  the  freedmen  can  be  ex- 
pected to  cherish  their  lord's  memory.  Incidentally,  also, 
there  are  few  better  ways  of  punishing  a  generally  incom- 
petent slave  than  having  him  ostentatiously  refused  freedom 
when  all  his  comrades  go  about  rejoicing. 

1  There  tyould  be  just  enough  of  negroes  in  Rome  for  them  to  cease  to 
be  great  curiosities. 


140  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

117.  The    Ceremony    of    Manumission.  —  Nevertheless, 
many  slaves  need  not  wait  for  their  masters  to  die.    They 
are  perhaps  suffered  to  work  at  a  trade,  and  accumulate  their 
"  peculium,"  and  then  very  likely  to  purchase  their  own  and 
their  wives'  and  children's  liberty.     With  rich  masters  of  the 
better  sort,  it  is  also  a  gracious  act  at  certain  intervals  to 
select  a  few  extra-deserving  slaves  and  say  to  them  the  blessed 
words,  "  Come  with  me  to  the  prsetor !  " 

When  they  are  all  before  the  magistrate  a  solemn  legal 
formality  is  gone  through.  One  of  the  official  lictors  steps 
forward,  gives  a  light  tap  with  his  rod  upon  the  head  of 
each  slave  and  says  loudly,  "  I  declare  this  man  is  free !  " 
The  master  laying  hold  of  the  slave  and  turning  him  around, 
replies,  "  And  I  desire  that  this  man  should  be  free !  "  adding 
a  slight  blow  on  the  cheek ;  whereat  the  magistrate  declares 
officially,  "  And  I  adjudge  that  this  man  is  free."  This 
completes  the  "  manumission " ;  then  home  the  happy 
"  freedman  "  (libertinw)  goes  to  be  greeted  with  the  con- 
gratulations of  his  former  fellow-slaves,  showers  of  sweet 
cakes,  dates,  and  figs  and  all  kinds  of  humble  rejoicings. 

118.  The  Status  of  Freedmen.     Their  Great  Success  in 
Business.  —  Henceforth,  the  ex-slave  is  the  freedman  of  his 
former  master.     He  takes  the  first  part  of  his  master's  name ; 
thus  that  Cleander,  manumitted  a  few  years  ago  by  Publius 
Junius  Calvus,  now  swells  about  proudly  as  Publius  Junius 
Cleander.     His  children  will  henceforth  be  Junii,  no  less 
lawfully  than  Calvus's  children;    with  a  result  that  the 
gentile  names  of  some  of  the  proudest  houses  in  Rome  are 
now  also  borne  by  families  perforce  acknowledging  swart 
Africans  or  tow-headed  Batavians  as  very  near  ancestors. 

Once  escaped  from  actual  slavery  a  great  career  in  life 
can  open  before  an  energetic  freedman.  If  his  ex-master  is 
a  Roman  citizen,  he  also  is  now  a  Roman  citizen  without  any 
naturalization  process.  True  he  is  under  a  social  stigma. 

The  Social  Orders  141 

Not  merely  he,  but  his  children  also,  are  excluded  from  the 
Senate  and  all  the  higher  offices  of  the  state;  but  an  ex- 
slave  is  not  likely  to  suffer  from  thinness  of  skin.  Compelled 
in  his  youth  to  use  his  wits  and  put  forth  all  his  energies, 
he  now  often  possesses  abilities,  often  not  very  refined  or 
delicate,  which  carry  him  far  in  trade,  general  business,  and 

Usually  before  a  master  manumits  a  slave  it  is  arranged 
that  he  shall  remain  in  the  mansion  as  some  kind  of  an  in- 
valuable "  man  of  business  "  for  handling  a  large  estate. 
Many  a  senator  is  like  Cicero,  in  all  private  affairs  com- 
pletely at  the  mercy  of  a  confidential  alter  ego,  a  freedman 
like  Cicero's  able  and  beloved  Tiro.  Practically  every 
dignitary  in  Rome  will  refer  his  business  matters  to  "  my 
freedman/'  a  shrewd  consequential  fellow,  probably  of 
Grseco-Levantine  origin,  who  has  the  right  to  use  his  patron's 
seal  ring,  and  who  knows  all  the  family  secrets.  Supple, 
obsequious,  and  indispensable,  he  is  certain  of  a  great  legacy 
when  his  patron  dies ;  and  if  the  patron  is  childless,  he  often 
becomes  his  heir.  There  are,  indeed,  plenty  of  cases  where 
a  slave-boy  who  entered  a  house  as  a  valet,  first  earned  free- 
dom, then  became  a  general  confidant,  and  ended  not  merely 
with  inheriting  the  house  itself  but  with  marrying  the  late 
owner's  widow. 

119.  Humble  Types  of  Freedmen.  —  Of  course,  the  bulk 
of  freedmen  have  no  claim  to  such  expectations.  They  are 
petty  shop  keepers  or  skilled  craftsmen.  They  make  up 
the  great  bureaus  of  upper  clerks  in  the  huge  government 
offices  on  the  Palatine.  Everywhere  they  compete,  as  a 
rule  very  successfully,  with  the  free  born,  and,  of  course, 
they  add  to  the  cosmopolitan  multitudes  in  Rome. 

An  ex-slave  cannot  avoid  becoming  substantially  the  client 
of  his  former  master.  He  is  supposed  to  show  his  patron 
and  his  patron's  family  constant  respect  and  usually  a  cer- 

142  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

tain  amount  of  service  without  compensation.  Thus  a 
while  ago  Calvus  manumitted  a  very  faithful  slave-physician. 
It  was  stipulated  that  he  should  continue  to  physic  the  f amilia 
without  charge.  For  a  freedman  to  show  himself  neglectful 
of  these  obligations,  above  all  to  do  anything  to  injure  his 
ex-master,  is  the  depth  of  depravity.  The  legal  penalties 
for  such  "  ingratitude  "  are  very  severe,  and  in  extreme  cases 
the  actual  act  of  manumission  itself  can  be  cancelled. 

120.  Wealth  and  Power  of  Successful  Freedmen.  —  Never- 
theless, top-lofty  freedmen  abound.  Their  ready  wits  bring 
them  riches  —  the  power  before  which  all  the  Empire  bends. 
Once  more  Juvenal  describes  an  obnoxious  type :  "  Though 
I'm  born  on  the  Euphrates,  a  fact  which  the  little  windows 
[holes  for  earrings]  in  my  ears  would  prove  if  I  denied  it  — 
yet  am  I  the  owner  of  five  shops  which  bring  me  in  400,000 
sesterces  [$16,000]  per  year.  What  better  thing  does  a 
senator's  robe  bestow?  Therefore,  let  everybody  give  way 
to  one  who  but  yesterday  with  the  chalked  feet  of  a  slave 
entered  our  city."  Freedmen,  of  course,  get  ahead 
marvellously  because  nothing  is  too  sordid  if  only  it  promises 
gain.  "  He  [a  certain  freedman] ,"  says  Petronius,  "  started 
with  an  as  [large  copper  coin],  and  was  always  ready  to  pick 
a  quadrans  [farthing]  out  of  the  filthy  mire  with  his  teeth.  So 
his  wealth  grew  and  grew  like  a  honey  comb  I  " 

Very  probably,  the  ideal  set  before  this  species  of  persons 
is  that  of  becoming  all-powerful  imperial  freedmen,  such  as 
that  pair,  Pallas  and  Narcissus,  who  literally  ruled  the 
Roman  Empire  through  their  patron,  Claudius.  Trajan 
and  Hadrian  have,  indeed,  greatly  reduced  the  power 
of  freedmen  around  the  Palace,  turning  the  great 
secretarial  offices  over  to  equites,  but  there  are  still  ex-slaves 
in  the  service  of  "  Caesar,"  who  have  only  a  little  less  in- 
fluence than  that  mighty  Claudius  Etruscus  who  died  of  old 
age  under  Domitian  after  having  served  six  Emperors.  He 

The  Social  Orders  143 

began  life  in  Rome  as  a  slave  boy  from  Smyrna.  Tiberius 
manumitted  him.  He  rose  to  become  practically  the  head 
of  the  Treasury.  His  wealth  was  great,  but  his  integrity 
matched  his  vast  power,  and  few  senators  had  such  command- 
ing influence  in  the  government  as  he  possessed. 

121.  Importance  of  Freedmen  in  a   Roman  Family.  — 
In  such  a  house  as  that  of  Calvus  there  are  neither  imperial 
ministers  nor  miserly  speculators.     The  freedmen  are  hon- 
ored and  trusted  members  not  of  the  slave  familia  but  of 
the   actual   "family."     When   they   are   sick   Calvus   and 
Gratia  are  greatly  concerned,  as  was  Pliny  the  Younger  over 
the  illness  of  his  beloved  reader,  Zosimus.     If  there  is  any 
domestic  crisis,  their  counsel  is  sought  and  they  take  a  zealous 
interest  in  the  education  of  their  lord's  children. 

On  the  other  hand,  on  the  nearby  Flora  Street  spreads  the 
huge  garish  palace  of  the  ex-slave  Athenonius,  who  won  his 
freedom  by  catering  to  a  foolish  master's  worst  passions, 
and  then  gathered  enormous  wealth  by  speculating  in  Egyp- 
tian corn.  "  Freedmeris  riches  "  have  become  a  proverb. 
Not  all  freedmen  are  by  any  means  wealthy,  but  enough  of 
them  have  risen  to  the  seats  of  the  mighty  to  make  every 
toiling  slave  dream  dreams  and  see  vision's  of  something 
better  than  a  dishonored,  servile  grave. 

122.  The  Status  of  Provincials.    The  Case  of  Jesus.  — 
All  freedmen  are  Roman  citizens,  albeit  citizens  under  a 
formal  handicap,  but  in  a  city  like  Rome  there  are  always 
many  free  persons  who  are  not  citizens  at  all  —  visiting  pro- 
vincials.    Every  year  the  Emperors  issue  some  edict  grant- 
ing the  franchise  to  a  new  group  of  non-citizens,  but  the 
numbers  of  the  latter  in  all  the  provinces  of  the  Empire  is 
still  great.1    At  Rome  their  position  is  ordinarily  comfortable 

1  It  is  impossible  to  estimate  the  proportion  of  the  population  "enfran- 
chised" finally  by  the  oft-discussed  edict  of  Caracalla  in  214  A.D.  It 
must  have  been  over  one  half  of  the  entire  total. 

144  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

enough,  although  if  arrested,  they  are  liable  to  a  more  sum- 
mary trial  than  Roman  citizens  and  in  case  of  famine  or 
public  disturbance  they  are  liable  to  sudden  expulsion  from 
the  city  (as  Claudius  expelled  the  Jews)  without  any  redress. 
The  real  disadvantage  which  they  endure  is  that  they  can- 
not be  appointed  to  any  kind  of  public  office  under  the 
Roman  government.  They  are  also  sometimes  under  a 
legal  handicap  in  making  and  enforcing  commercial  con- 
tracts ;  and  last  but  not  least  in  their  own  provinces  they 
cannot  "  appeal  to  Csesar  "  (if  in  an  "  Imperial  "  province) 
or  to  the  Senate  (if  in  a  "  Senatorial  "  province)  against  the 
decision,  however  arbitrary,  of  the  Roman  governor. 

If  you  search  the  public  records  at  the  great  Tabularium 
(Public  Record  Office)  by  the  Forum,  you  can  find  for  example 
the  report  of  the  trial  of  a  certain  Jew,  one  Christus,  who  was 
accused  of  sedition  in  Judaea,  about  a  hundred  years  before 
our  visit  to  Rome.  The  procurator  Pilatus  yielding  to 
popular  clamor  had  him  executed  ignominiously  by  cru- 
cifixion. This  was,  of  course,  within  Pilatus's  legal  au- 
thority. Christus  was  only  a  provincial  and  he  could  take 
no  appeal. 

The  status  of  the  provincials  depends  much  on  whether 
their  communities  enjoy  any  treaty  with  or  charter  from 
Rome.  Athens  and  a  few  other  favored  places  are  nom- 
inally "  equal  allies  "  with  full  rights  of  self-government,  and 
their  citizens  can  claim  a  favored  position  among  the  mass 
of  provincials.  Other  places  possess  charters  giving  great 
privileges  but  revocable  in  case  of  gross  abuse. 

The  bulk  of  the  provincials  are  mere  "  stipendiaries," 
often  permitted  local  self-government,  but  subject  to  Roman 
taxation,  and  to  the  complete  jurisdiction  of  the  Roman 
governor.  Under  the  Empire  these  governors  are  only  by 
exception  corrupt  and  arbitrary,  but  their  decisions  must 
usually  be  final. 

The  Social  Orders  145 

123.  Great  Alien  Colonies  in  Rome.  —  Apart  from  the 
great  alien  slave  population  there  are  inevitably  large  groups 
of  resident  aliens  in  various  parts  of  the  capital.    There 
is  a  Little  Syria,  Little  Egypt,  Little  Spain,  and  a  Little 
Greece  as  surely  as  in  certain  great  cities  of  a  later  civiliza- 
tion, but  the  most  famous  and  conspicuous  is  the  great 
Jewish  colony. 

This  exists  mainly  in  the  Trans-Tiber  district  under  the 
shadow  of  the  Janiculum,  although  Jews  are  allowed  to 
settle  and  to  do  business  in  any  section  of  the  city.  The 
total  number  of  free  Jews  in  Rome  has  been  set  at  35,000  in 
Augustus's  day,  and  it  received  a  great  reinforcement  through 
the  captives  of  Titus,  many  of  whom  regained  their  liberty. 
The  Jews  are  obliged  to  pay  to  the  Capitoline  Jupiter  that 
tribute  which  they  formerly  paid  to  their  Temple  in  Jeru- 
salem, but  otherwise  they  are  not  harassed  by  the  govern- 
ment. For  the  most  part,  however,  they  are  very  poor; 
few  of  them  are  great  bankers  or  merchants,  but  nearly  all 
the  rest  are  petty  shopkeepers  and  peddlers  —  also  a  great 
many  are  alleged  to  increase  their  living  by  fortune-telling 
and  by  like  dubious  arts. 

124.  The  Roman  Plebeians,  the   "Mob"    (Vulgus).  — 
Greatly  surpassing  the  resident  aliens  in  number  are  inevi- 
tably the  ordinary  Roman  plebeians.     It  is  a  fine  thing  in 
the  provinces  to  boast,  "  Civis  Romania  sum"  but  in  the 
capital  many  a  freedman,  many  an  upper-slave  of  a  magnate 
even,  looks  down  with  scorn  on  a  large  fraction  of  this  "  com- 
mon herd  "  (grex)  that  still  claims  to  form  "  the  Roman 
People/'     However,  if  you  are  really  a  Roman  citizen  en- 
titled to  wear  a  toga,  and  to  share -in  the  grain  doles  and 
other  public  distributions,  you  can  really  live  on  very  little. 
Somehow  you  must  find  means  for  the  rental  of  a  sleeping 
garret  in  an  insula,  but  the  daytime  you  can  spend  hanging 
around  the  fora,  porticoes,  or  the  entrances  to  the  circuses 

146  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

and  gladiator  schools,  playing  morra  and  checkergames 
(see  p.  205) ;  idling  in  the  great  public  baths ;  frequenting 
every  possible  public  exhibition  in  the  theater  or  amphithea- 
ter and  often  getting  a  bare  income  by  toadying  most  abjectly 
to  the  rich. 

Everybody  despises  this  Roman  "  mob,"  and  yet  cringes 
to  it.  Its  yells  across  the  circus  send  the  blood  from  the 
cheeks  of  very  tyrannous  emperors.  The  mild  Italian 
climate  renders  an  existence  amid  dirt  and  sunshine,  eked 
out  by  very  little  labor,  decidedly  tolerable.1  Assuredly 
very  many  of  these  "  citizens  "  are  simply  honest  thrifty 
industrialists,  trades  people,  or  professional  men,  holding 
their  own  stubbornly  against  the  competing  slaves,  freed- 
men,  and  aliens.  Nevertheless,  the  proportion  of  undesir- 
ables is  dangerously  great.  Many  of  the  idle  plebeians  are 
the  sons  of  freedmen,  who  have  inherited  their  parents' 
non-Italian  vices  but  who  have  not  been  under  their  necessity 
of  hard  work  and  faithfulness ;  and  when  one  examines  the 
moral  and  social  qualities  of  the  alleged  heirs  of  the  virtuous 
old-time  plebeians  the  idea  of  "  restoring  the  Republic/' 
still  sighed  after  by  a  few  aristocratic  philosophers,  appears 
absolutely  laughable.2 

125.  The  Desirability  of  Roman  Citizenship.  The  Case 
of  St.  Paul.  —  It  is  as  contrasted  with  the  status  of  provin- 
cials that  Roman  citizenship  still  preserves  its  remarkable 
value.  A  citizen  can,  indeed,  no  longer  go  to  the  Republican 
assemblies  to  elect  magistrates  and  vote  on  proposed  statutes, 
but  he  has  his  personal  and  property  rights  protected  by 
the  best  kind  of  "  Quiritian "  law.  The  government  is 
never,  indeed,  iniquitous  enough  to  enact  that,  as  between 

1  Apparently  it  was  quite  possible  for  impecunious  persons  to  sleep 
much  of  the  year  under  the  public  arches  and  porticoes,  and  thus  even 
dispense  witji  the  need  of  paying  rent ! 

2  These  hopes  had  practically  died  out  by  Hadrian's  day. 

The  Social  Orders  147 

Roman  and  provincial,  the  judge  must  always  decide  for 
the  former,  nevertheless  the  advantages  of  the  citizen  are 

A  Roman  can  command  all  sorts  of  protection  not  open  to 
provincials.  The  judge  will  almost  inevitably  be  a  little 
prejudiced  in  his  favor.  If  arrested,  a  citizen  can  ordinarily 
demand  the  right  to  give  bail.  It  is  a  gross  outrage  to  "  ex- 
amine him  by  scourging."  He  cannot  be  put  to  torture. 
If  he  is  finally  sentenced  to  die,  he  cannot  be  crucified,  but 
ordinarily  must  be  beheaded  —  a  very  merciful  end.  Par- 
ticularly, unless  the  case  is  extremely  clear,  in  matters  touch- 
ing his  life  and  status  as  a  citizen  he  can  appeal  from  the 
decision  of  a  provincial  governor  to  "  Csesar "  or  to  the 
Senate  (if  in  a  province  governed  by  that  body). 

If  we  visit  the  Record  Office  again,  this  matter  is  clearly 
illustrated.  About  twenty-five  years  after  the  crucifixion 
of  Christus,  one  of  his  followers,  a  certain  Paulus,  was  also 
arrested  in  Jerusalem  on  much  the  same  charges  of  attempted 
sedition  and  inciting  disturbance.  But  Paulus,  when  ar- 
rested, promptly  pleaded  his  Roman  citizenship.  Vainly 
the  local  mob  clamored  for  his  life  even  as  they  had  de- 
manded that  of  Christus.  When  the  local  procurator  Festus 
hesitated  to  set  him  at  liberty,  the  prisoner  demanded  to  be 
sent  to  Rome  —  and  thither  at  great  trouble  and  expense 
he  had  to  be  shipped ;  to  be  tried  ultimately  before  the  Prse- 
torian  Prsefect  sitting  as  Nero's  deputy;  and  the  charges 
were  dismissed  and  he  was  set  at  liberty.1  If  he  had  not 
been  a  Roman,  assuredly  the  weak-kneed  governor  of  Pales- 
tine would  have  sacrificed  him  "  to  please  the  Jews  "  just 
as  Pilatus  sacrificed  Christus. 

126.  Clientage :  Its  Oldest  Form.  —  Between  the  poorest 
classes  of  plebeians,  sleeping  within  porticoes  and  despised 

1  That  St.  Paul  was  presently  released  after  trial  at  Rome  is  the  con- 
sensus among  very  many  competent  scholars. 

148  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

by  the  superior  slaves,  and  those  dignified  well-to-do  gentle- 
men who  have  almost  the  means  to  pass  as  equites,  there 
are,  of  course,  an  infinite  number  of  social  strata.  The  most 
important  section  of  the  better  plebeians  is  undoubtedly 
to  be  numbered  among  the  clients. 

Clientage  is  a  very  old  Roman  institution.  The  kings 
and  nobles  of  Rome  in  the  very  twilight  of  history  had  their 
clients.  Those  were  the  days  when  poor  plebeians  had  little 
or  no  legal  protection  unless  they  enlisted  the  patronage  of  a 
magnate.  They  entered  his  gens  (inner-clan),  followed  him 
in  war,  voted  (when  they  obtained  the  vote)  in  his  interest, 
assisted  him  in  certain  money  matters,  in  short,  became 
members  of  his  household  although  very  much  better  off 
than  the  slaves.  In  return  the  patron  was  bound  to  defend 
their  legal  rights  in  the  courts  and  to  protect  them  from  all 
forms  of  outrage.  Men  were  proud  to  confess  themselves  as 
clients  of  a  Fabius  or  an  ^Emilius.  But  by  the  end  of  the 
Republic  the  institution  had  practically  disappeared  in  its 
original  form.  There  was  little  legal  discrimination  then 
against  poor  citizens,  and  about  all  the  real  clients  who  now 
remained  were  freedmen,  who,  as  just  seen,  were  bound  to 
be  loyal  and  helpful  to  their  patroni. 

127.  The  New  Parasitical  Clientage  :  the  Morning  Saluta- 
tion. —  Now,  however,  a  new  and  wholly  parasitical  clientage 
has  come  into  being.  Early  every  morning  the  clients  can 
be  seen  hurrying  down  Mercury  Street  in  their  hastily  donned 
togas.  Sometimes  a  patron  lives  a  ,  great  distance  across 
the  city;  sometimes  a  fawning  myrmidon  hopes  to  visit 
two  patrons  in  the  same  morning  and  get  a  double  reward. 
Calvus  does  not  rejoice  in  a  great  horde  of  clients,  but  being 
a  senator  his  dignity  requires  that  he  should  maintain  per- 
haps a  score  of  them. 

These  clients  are  an  assorted  lot.  Some  are  merely  cheap 
hangers-on,  some  are  adventurers  visiting  Rome  and  ex- 

The  Social  Orders 


pecting  to  prosper  by  earning  the  favor  of  the  great,  there 
is  also  a  mediocre  poet  who  hopes  for  a  tidy  gift  some  day 
because  of  laudatory  verses  about  his  "  Rex  "  and  the  lat- 
ter's  family,  there  are  several  distant  relatives  of  the  Calvi, 
poor  relations  to  whom  the  doles  are  a  form  of  pension ;  and 
finally  there  are  two  or  three  men  of  good  family  and  tolerable 

After  Von  Falke. 

incomes  who   actually   dance   attendance  on   Calvus  just 
to  get  a  little  extra  pocket  money. 

The  clients  gather  in  the  vestibule  at  dawn,  rubbing 
their  eyes,  rearranging  their  hastily  donned  togas,  and  each 
trying  to  induce  the  not  very  civil  porter  to  permit  him 
to  enter  first.  At  last  the  word  is  passed  to  the  door 
that,  "  The  patron  is  ready."  The  valves  open ;  the 
clients  swarm  inside  together.  Publius  Calvus  dressed  for 
the  morning  is  standing  in  the  rear  of  his  atrium,  just  be- 
hind the  pool  of  the  impluvium.  At  his  elbow  is  his 

150  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

nomenclator,  the  slave  who  "  knows  everybody,"  to  whisper 
a  name  in  case  he  should  not  connect  it  promptly  with 
a  face. 

"  Ave,  pair  one,  aw  !  "  cries  each  client  coming  up  in  turn. 
"  Ave,  Marce  !  "  or  "  Sexte  !  "  or  "  Lucie  !  "  answers  Calvus 
with  a  more  or  less  formal  smile. 

If  his  mood  is  very  gracious,  each  client  is  allowed  to  seize 
his  hand,  and  two  or  three  in  extra  favor  are  suffered  to  kiss 
his  cheek.  The  nomenclator  meantime  prompts  him  in  un- 
dertone, "  Ask  about  his  wife,"  "  Congratulate  him  on  his 
niece's  marriage,"  etc.  And  if  that  evening  there  are  not 
more  important  guests  in  view,  the  senator  will  delight  the 
souls  of  several  by  saying  affably,  "  Come  to-night  to  dinner." 
The  clients  in  any  case  congratulate  themselves  that  their 
patron  is  not  like  some  of  those  very  haughty  parvenus, 
who  simply  hold  out  their  hands  to  be  kissed  and  never  speak 
a  word,  and  who  like  to  be  called  "dominus,"  as  if  then* 
clients  were  merely  slaves. 

128.  The  Dole  to  Clients  (the  Sportula).  —  After  the 
clients  will  appear  more  pretentious  visitors  —  equites  and 
fellow  senators  —  who  call  to  see  Calvus  on  business.  Their 
own  clients  are  probably  waiting  listlessly  in  the  street,  while 
Calvus5 s  dependents  have  to  stand  respectfully  near  their 
lord  until  an  upper  slave  beckons  them  toward  the  office  — 
the  tablinum.  He  has  a  list  in  his  hand  and  checks  off  all 
present  as  might  a  master  the  pupils  in  his  school,  and  then 
comes  the  reward  which  brought  all  these  toga-wearing 
gentry  thither,  a  distribution  of  money. 

In  former  years  every  client  had  received  an  actual  portion 
of  victuals,  known  as  sportula  from  the  "little  basket" 
which  everybody  brought  to  bear  the  viands  hence.  But 
this  custom  of  distributing  actual  food  was  inconvenient, 
and  far  more  pleasing  is  an  actual  gift  of  money.  Only 
regularly  listed  clients  can  receive  this ;  and  no  client,  sick 

The  Social  Orders  151 

or  lazy,  can  send  a  deputy.1  He  must  appear  in  person  or 
stand  his  loss.  At  length,  to  every  lawful  retainer  present 
is  carefully  counted  out  a  hundred  quadrantes,  small  coppers 
(rather  under  25  cents),  and  besides  the  clients  entertain 
a  few  hopes  of  a  fairly  liberal  present  at  New  Year's  Day, 
and  at  some  other  festivals,  and  as  seen,  in  a  kind  of  rotation 
they  are  invited  at  broad  intervals  to  dinner. 

129.  Attendance  by  Clients  in  Public.  Insults  They  Must 
Undergo.  —  After  the  sportula  has  been  paid,  the  clients 
look  anxiously  toward  Calvus.  Will  he  tell  them,  as  he  does 
about  half  of  the  time,  "  Nothing  more  to-day/'  and  let  them 
scatter  down  the  streets  ?  Not  so ;  "  My  litter  "  he  orders. 
The  clients  are  obliged  to  march  before  and  behind,  along 
with  the  slaves,  helping  to  elbow  aside  the  crowd,  while  the 
senator  visits  other  senatorial  houses,  next  his  banker  at 
the  Forum,  and  then  the  law  courts  for  a  consultation,  and 
so  goes  his  round.  If  he  detains  the  clients  through  the 
noon  hour,  he  is  obligated  to  give  them  some  kind  of  luncheon  ; 
but  he  can  command  the  attendance  of  them  all  even  up  to 
the  tenth  hour,  when  he  may  turn  them  loose  to  refresh 
themselves  in  the  public  Baths  of  Titus,  after  they  have  left 
him  perhaps  at  the  more  select  Baths  of  Agrippa. 

As  for  the  clients  invited  to  Calvus 's  dinner,  if  the  fare  is 
plainer  than  on  the  night  of  a  high  banquet,  there  is  at  least 
no  insulting  discrimination.  A  decent  patron  and  patrona 
are  bound  to  show  themselves  "  friends  "  of  their  clients 
and  to  keep  up  a  pretence  of  democratic  manners.  But 
as  stated  earlier  (see  p.  120),  many  a  vulgar  plutocrat, 
feeling  that  'he  has  paid  good  money  to  get  a  proper  retinue 

1  Women  as  well  as  men  could  sometimes  be  enrolled  as  clients.  Com- 
ical stories  abounded ;  how  a  husband  appeared  with  a  litter  claiming 
that  his  "  sick  wife"  was  inside  —  "  and  would  the  steward  please  hurry 
with  the  fee"  — when,  on  brushing  aside  the  curtains,  the  litter  was 
found  to  be  empty. 

152  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

to  follow  him  to  the  Forum,  delights  to  insult  his  clients' 
feelings  when  he  invites  them.  The  host  enjoys  his  fine  white 
loaf,  while  the  client's  is  almost  too  hard  to  break ;  the  host 
a  splendid  lobster  garnished  with  asparagus,  the  client  "  a 
crab  on  a  tiny  plate  hemmed  in  by  half  an  egg  " ;  the  lord 
"  noble  mushrooms,"  the  client  "  toadstools  of  doubtful 
quality/'  —  and  all  other  treatment  is  to  match.  Yet  such 
is  the  servility  and  pettiness  of  many  that  they  will  endure 
all  this  and  worse  merely  in  order  to  boast  the  next  day  of 

"  last  night  when  I  dined  with  my  friend  the  senator !  " 

"  You  think  yourself  a  citizen  and  the  guest  of  a  grandee," 
cries  the  indignant  poet.  "  He  thinks,  and  he's  nearly  right, 
that  you've  been  captured  by  the  fine  smell  from  his  kitchen." 

Clientage  then  is  a  typical  institution  of  imperial  Rome  — 
a  means  for  letting  rich  men  flatter  their  desire  for  a  huge 
company  of  obsequious  attendants  by  trading  on  the  wretched 
ambition  of  so  many  to  appear  to  be  on  familiar  terms  with 
the  great.  It  multiplies  the  horde  of  shabby-genteel  persons 
around  the  city,  and  the  vast  number  of  those  who  flee  from 
their  greatest  aversion  —  honest  work. 

130.  The  Decurions:  the  Notables  of  the  Chartered 
Cities.  — Above  the  run  of  clients  or  even  of  the  better 
plebeians  is  the  actual  nobility.  Strictly  speaking  only  the 
senators  and  equites  are  reckoned  in  this  group,  but  always 
in  Rome  are  sojourning  a  certain  number  of  other  men  who 
hold  themselves  decidedly  better  than  any  plebeians  —  the 
decurions  from  the  enfranchised  towns  covering  all  Italy 
and  dotted  over  the  entire  Empire.1 

The  decurions  are  the  notables  of  the  smaller  chartered 
cities.  In  their  own  communities  they  are  local  senators 
and  enjoy  in  a  small  way  the  position  of  an  actual  Senator 

1  Especially  in  Gaul,  Spain,  and  North  Africa ;  in  the  Eastern  prov- 
inces the  city  governments  were  not  run  so  strictly  in  the  Roman  mold 
and  often  kept  their  native  characteristics. 

The  Social  Orders  153 

in  Rome.1  Nobody  can  be  elected  decurion  without  a 
reasonable  property  qualification,  in  many  cities  100,000 
sesterces  ($4000),  and  from  their  body  of  wealthy  digni- 
taries the  local  public  assemblies  still  elect  (even  under  the 
Empire)  city  magistrates,  duumvirs,  sediles,  etc.,  who  take 
the  place  in  each  community  of  the  old  consuls  and  censors 
of  Republican  Rome. 

Since  the  loyalty  of  the  population  and  the  popularity  of 
the  imperial  regime  often  depends  on  this  very  influential 
class  of  decurions,  the  government  makes  much  of  them ; 
allows  them  high-sounding  titles  and  tinsel  honors,  and  any 
who  visit  Rome  are  given  social  precedence  directly  behind 
the  actual  equites.  Furthermore,  many  high  Roman  nobles 
themselves  are  proud  to  be  enrolled  as  patrons  and  honorary 
decurions  of  the  Italian  towns,  looking  after  the  interest  of 
their  client  communities  in  the  capital,  and,  if  they  visit  the 
smaller  cities,  being  received  as  particular  guests  of  honor. 
The  number  of  decurions,  however,  in  Rome  itself  is  always 
small,  although  their  importance  everywhere  else  in  the 
Empire  is  vast,  and  they  virtually  form  a  third  order  of 

131.  The  Equites:  the  Nobles  of  the  Second  Class. — 
Everywhere  around  the  metropolis  you  meet  the  second- 
class  nobles  —  the  Equites.2  This  "  Splendid  Order  "  dates, 
of  course,  from  the  oldest  days  when  to  keep  a  cavalry  horse 
implied  having  considerable  property.  The  equites  sank  to 
unimportance  in  the  prosperous  era  of  the  Republic,  but 
were  revived  to  great  power  by  Gaius  Gracchus ;  they  were 
later  reorganized  and  made  an  effective  part  of  the  new 
imperial  regime  by  Augustus. 

1  Hence  they  were  often  called  Curiales  from  their  seat  in  the  local 
Senate  House  (Curia) . 

2  This  name  is  not  wisely  translated  as  "Knights,"  unless  there  is 
complete  disassociation  from  the  idea  of  the  mediaeval  baron  in  armor. 

154  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

The  dividing  line  between  Senators  and  Equites  is  not 
always  sharp.  Young  men  of  senatorial  family  who  renounce 
a  political  career  have  to  "  make  narrow  their  purple  stripe," 
as  did  Ovid,  and  without  disgrace  appear  henceforth  as 
second-class  nobles.  Supposedly  no  persons  but  the  sons 
of  free-born  men  are  eligible  for  enrollment  as  equites,  but 
the  members  of  the  old-line  families  fume  vainly  at  the  way 
the  Emperors  (who  have  complete  dispensing  power)  will 
grant  "  the  right  of  the  gold  ring,"  not  merely  to  the  sons  of 
freedmen,  but  sometimes  even  to  downright  ex-slaves. 
There  are  in  truth  very  few  equites  in  Rome  who  do  not 
reckon  a  slave  among  their  not  remote  grandparents. 

The  equites  are  all  carefully  enrolled  in  a  public  bureau 
under  imperial  control,  and  one  of  the  surest  holds  which  the 
Emperor  possesses  upon  the  government  lies  in  the  fact  that 
he  can  refuse  enrollment  arbitrarily  to  any  young  man  and 
thereby  practically  exclude  him  from  any  kind  of  high  public 
office  except  in  the  municipal  towns,  or  from  any  military 
rank  above  that  of  centurion.  The  senators,  all  the  more 
important  officials,  and  all  the  commissioned  officers  of  the 
army  are  equites,  although  then*  greater  honors  cause  them 
to  ignore  the  lesser,  while  if  the  Emperor  has  an  eligible  son 
or  heir,  he  is  often  proclaimed  the  princeps  juventutis  ("  Chief 
of  the  Roman  Youth  ")  and  is  nominally  the  first  member 
of  the  Equestrian  Order. 

132.  Qualifications  and  Honors  of  the  Equites.  —  To  be 
enrolled  as  an  eques  one  must  possess  besides  unstained 
birth  (with  exceptions  above  noted),  a  good  public  reputa- 
tion, and  taxable  property  worth  at  least  400,000  sesterces 
($16,000) ;  sufficient  therefore  to  pass  for  a  tolerably  rich 
man.  The  honor  comes  for  life,  subject  to  demotion,  how- 
ever, for  disgraceful  conduct,  or  lapse  into  poverty.  A  son 
normally  inherits  his  father's  status,  if  his  own  share  of  the 
patrimony  comes  to  over  400,000  sesterces;  and  of  course, 

The  Social  Orders  155 

to  make  up  that  magic  figure  many  plebeians  pinch  and 

The  honors  of  an  eques  are  great  in  any  age  laying  such 
stress  on  outward  praise  and  glory.  Besides  the  right  to  the 
plain  gold  ring,  the  narrow  purple  stripe  running  down  the 
front  of  the  tunic  proudly  proclaims  the  fact,  "  I  am  of  the 
nobility."  The  equites  also  enjoy  fourteen  rows  of  seats  in 
the  public  games  and  theater  directly  behind  the  four  front 
ones  reserved  for  the  senators.  They  provide  a  large  frac- 
tion of  all  the  jurors  in  the  great  civil  tribunals  which  handle 
most  of  the  litigation.1  Very  many  of  the  great  imperial 
ministries  and  superintendences  are  reserved  for  them,  for 
the  Emperor  does  not  like  to  trust  the  senators  too  implicitly, 
and  some  of  the  smaller  provinces  have  equestrian  "  Pro- 
curators "  as  their  governors,  as  also  does  the  enormously 
wealthly  province  of  Egypt. 

The  majority  of  the  equites,  however,  are  in  private  life. 
Senators  ought  not  (except  through  convenient  middle- 
men) to  engage  in  commerce  and  trade.  Not  so  the  equites 
—  the  powerful  bankers  with  whom  the  imperial  treasurer 
may  confer ;  the  owners  of  the  peaceful  armadas  that  enter 
Puteoli  or  Ostia ;  the  proprietors  of  the  finer  retail  establish- 
ments along  the  Ssepta  Julia  as  well  as  of  the  huge  wholesale 
houses ;  the  directors  of  the  vast  brickyards,  and  other  highly 
developed  industries ;  the  owners  of  so  many  of  the  squalid 
but  profitable  insulae  —  nearly  all  will  show  their  "  Angusti- 
clave  "  —  their  narrow  purple  stripe.  Equites  appear  at 
banquets  with  senators  without  the  least  awkwardness ;  find 
they  like  to  be  addressed  by  fine  booming  titles :  insignes, 
priwores,  illustres,  or,  if  holding  high  office,  eminentissimi, 
but  in  most  cases  as  splendidi;  and  "  splendid  "  they  appear 
to  the  envious  slaves  and  plebeians. 

1  Apparently  at  this  time  two  thirds  of  the  jurors  were  equites  and 
one  third  senators,  but  the  point  is  not  quite  certain. 

156  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

133.  Review  of  the  Equites.    Pretenders  to  the  Rank.  — 
The  equites  are  still  in  theory  a  military  body.    Every  15th 
of  July,  unless  the  review  is  deliberately  omitted,  all  members 
who  are  physically  able  are  supposed  to  procure  horses  and 
take  part  in  a  grand  parade  before  the  Emperor.     Sometimes 
there  are  at  least  5000  equites   in    the   procession.    The 
Emperor  still  has  the  right  of  the  ancient  censors  to  brand  a 
man  as  a  bad  citizen  by  the  public  command,  "  Sell  your 
horse !  "  as  he  rides  by  the  reviewing  stand ; l  but  the  parade 
has  now  become  merely  an  unpleasant  formality  for  portly 
men  unaccustomed  to  horseback,  and  old  gentlemen  are 
usually  excused. 

In  so  large  a  body  of  "  gentry/'  however,  imposture  be- 
comes fairly  common.  Nearly  every  Emperor  issues  an 
edict  for  the  purging  of  the  order,  and  every  now  and  then 
some  adventurous  nobody  is  divested  of  his  "  narrow  stripe." 
Calvus  came  home  lately  from  the  Flaminian  Circus  laughing 
heartily.  Just  behind  his  senatorial  tier  a  perfumed  and 
beringed  fellow  set  off  with  a  splendid  lacerna  sat  down  say- 
ing loudly,  "  Now  at  last,  thanks  to  our  Caesar,  due  honors 
have  come  to  the  Roman  equites,  and  the  vulgar  are  kept 
away  " ;  but  hardly  had  he  spoken  ere  a  lynx-eyed  usher 
identified  him  and  amid  the  jeering  of  hundreds  "  forced 
that  very  fine  lacerna  to  get  up !  " 

134.  The  Senatorial  Order.    The  First-Class  Nobility.  — 
The  first  class  in  the  nobility  is  the  Senatorial.    The  actual 
functioning  of  the  Senate  which  is  still  a  most  venerable  and 
powerful  council  will  be  told  later  (see  p.  334) ;    here  we 
have  to  see  its  members  merely  in  social  and  unofficial  life. 
They  number  six  hundred  and  entrance  into  their  gilded  circle 
comes  usually  by  a  kind  of  hereditary  right.     The  sons  of  a 

1  The  Republican  censors  could  also  give  the  order,  "  Sell  your  horse*' 
without  stigma  to  equites  who  appeared  in  the  review  when  too  old  or  too 

The  Social  Orders  157 

senator  can  almost  always  count  on  becoming  senators  them- 
selves if  the  family  fortune  is  not  too  impaired  and  they  have 
not  fallen  under  imperial  disfavor.  To  win  the  honor  you 
must  either  be  elected  (by  the  Senate  itself)  to  some  one  of 
the  old  Republican  offices  —  quaestors,  sediles,  praetors, 
consuls,  etc.,  —  which  carried  a  life  seat  in  the  Senate  with 
them,  or  be  appointed  outright  by  fiat  of  the  Emperor.  The 
latter,  furthermore,  is  always  pushing  forward  his  favorites 
by  "  inviting  "  the  senators  to  elect  them  to  office,  and  the 
"  Conscript  Fathers  "  never  disregarded  such  a  broad  hint 
from  "  Caesar." 

136.  Social  Glories  of  Senators.  —  Senators  alone  are 
eligible  for  the  highest  commands  in  the  army,  for  the  gov- 
ernorships for  the  more  important  provinces,  except  Egypt, 
and  for  most  of  the  other  exalted  offices  which  do  not  involve 
a  vulgar  handling  of  money.  The  Emperor  himself  ranks 
as  the  head  of  their  noble  body.  Even  when  he  is  at  bitter 
odds  with  them,  he  must  not  forget  that  they  share  part  of 
his  glory.  Still  is  told  the  story  of  how  one  of  Nero's  parasites 
raised  a  laugh  from  the  tyrant  one  day.  "I  hate  you, 
Caesar!"  he  announced.  "And  why  is  that?"  "Oh, 
just  because  you  are  a  senator." 

All  the  senators  are  officially  the  "  friends,"  amid,  of  the 

These  great  nobles  are  entitled  to  visit  the  Emperor  in  the 
palace  somewhat  as  clients  visit  their  patron.  He  is  expected 
to  extend  his  hand  to  them ;  to  treat  them  as  a  kind  of  social 
equals ;  and  to  allow  the  more  important  of  them  to  kiss  him. 
They  and  their  wives  must  be  invited  to  all  the  greater  palace 
banquets.  Finally  all  the  better  monarchs  are  expected  to 
take  oath  at  the  beginning  of  their  reigns  that  they  "  will 
never  put  any  senator  to  death  "  —  that  is,  that  the  Senate 
shall  be  the  supreme  judge  over  its  own  members. 

Although  parvenus  are  promoted  by  even  the  best  of 

158  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

emperors,  the  senatorial  families  average  much  older  than  do 
the  equestrian ;  and  it  is  still  a  very  desirable  thing  to  boast 
of  "  ancient  blood  and  the  painted  visages  of  one's  forebears." 

136.  The  Senatorial  Aristocracy  Greater  than  the  Senate. 

—  The  "  Senatorial  Aristocracy/'  nevertheless,  is  something 
greater  than  the  actual  membership  of  the  great  council  it- 
self. Not  merely  the  sons  but  all  the  male  descendants  of  a 
senator  to  the  third  degree  are  reckoned  as  equal  socially  to 
the  actual  (f  Conscript  Fathers,"  though  many  such  connec- 
tions dress  merely  as  equites  with  the  narrow  stripe.  This 
may  be  from  "  lack  of  ambition  "  or  it  may  be  from  desire 
to  engage  in  trade.  Gratia  has  two  brothers.  One  is  a 
senator,  his  wealth  invested  in  lands,  and  at  present  he  is 
imperial  legate  over  part  of  Britain.  The  second  is  tech- 
nically only  an  eques,  busy  with  enormous  financial  trans- 
actions with  Alexandria;  but  the  second  is  the  richer  and 
probably  the  more  influential  man  of  the  two.  Of  course, 
all  the  wives  of  senators  rank  with  their  husbands,  and  every 
cousin,  niece,  or  nephew  of  the  latter  feels  a  reflected  luster. 
The  six  hundred  senators  are,  therefore,  the  center  of  an  upper 
aristocracy  with  at  least  six  thousand  actual  members. 

137.  Insignia,  Qualifications,  and  Titles  of  Senators.  — 

The  actual  senators  make  no  concealment  of  their  honors. 
They  have  their  special  shoes  (see  p.  95),  and  most  impor- 
tant of  all  they  have  the  broad  purple  stripe  running  down 
the  front  of  their  tunics,  the  precious  laticlave,  distinguishing 
them  instantly  from  the  equites.  Nobody,  furthermore,  can 
be  enrolled  as  senator  unless  he  possesses  the  taxable  fortune 
of  at  least  1,000,000  sesterces  ($40,000) ;  and  this  insures 
that  he  is  a  passing  rich  man,  above  petty  bribes  and  able 
to  live  with  the  dignity  becoming  a  Lord  of  the  Empire. 

The  public  glories  of  these  dignitaries  match  their  for- 
tunes.    At  all  the  public  games  and  spectacles  the  senatorial 

The  Social  Orders  159 

tiers  are  directly  behind  the  Emperor's  lodge.  In  the  public 
feasts  the  senators  are  not  merely  entitled  to  the  seats  of 
honor,  but  frequently  to  extra-generous  portions  of  the  food. 
If  a  senator  tours  the  provinces,  he  can  command  every  kind 
of  servile  attention,  even  if  the  Emperor  refuses  him  the 
"  right  of  free  legation  "  —  the  privileges  of  traveling  with 
the  honors  of  an  ambassador.  Finally  if  he  is  arrested,  not 
merely  is  he  ordinarily  tried  before  his  peers  —  in  the  Senate  ; 
he  is  subject  to  much  lighter  penalties  than  the  run  of  citizens 
in  case  of  conviction.1 

Finally  the  senators  have  a  title  of  nobility  which  they  are 
able  to  command  practically  as  a  formal  right 2  —  mr  darissi- 
miLS  —  "Very  distinguished  Lord"  or  "Your  Magnifi- 
cence." Gratia,  like  every  senator's  wife,  is  a  femina  claris- 
sima;  even  her  small  sons  can  be  addressed  pompously  as 
pueri  clarissimi.  To  the  multitude  who  make  way  for  their 
litters,  the  rank  of  darissimus  appears  the  acme  of  attainable 

The  political  power  of  the  Senate  has  waned,  but  emperors 
are  only  mortal  individuals.  They  come  and  go ;  the  existence 
of  the  great,  proud,  wealthy,  landed  aristocracy  seems  to  go 
on  forever.  Emperors  usually  succeed  so  far  as  they  win  its 
loyalty  and  favor ;  they  somehow  fail,  and  are  branded  across 
history  as  tyrants  (often  cut  short  by  dagger  thrusts)  when 
they  earn  its  hate.  In  an  Empire  of  nigh  one  hundred  mil- 
lions the  six  thousand  of  the  Senatorial  Order  form  the  normal 
apex  of  the  human  pyramid.  It  is  a  fine  thing  to  be  a  senator. 

1  By  the  age  of  Hadrian  we  see  signs  of  that  rigid  separation  between 
upper-class  citizens  (majores)  and  lower-class  (minores)  which  marked 
the  Later  Empire.     The  equitea  tended  to  be  mingled  with  the  senators  in 
the  majores. 

2  Marcus  Aurelius  confirmed  this  legally  about  170  A.D. 


138.  Scanty  Qualifications  and  Training  of  Doctors.  — 
People  fall  sick  in  Rome  quite  as  much  as  in  every  other  great 
center  of  humanity,  but  the  healing  art  has  not  really  pro- 
gressed a  great  deal  beyond  that  in  Athens  in  the  days  of 
Hippocrates  nearly  five  hundred  years  earlier.1  A  great  pro- 
portion of  even  the  most  fashionable  doctors  are  freedmen, 
and  nearly  all  of  these  have  Greek  (or  sometimes  Egyptian) 
names.  There  is  no  medical  examination.  Anybody  who 
has  made  a  failure  in  other  callings  is  welcome  to  pose  as  a 
physician  and  try  to  extract  money  from  the  unfortunate. 
There  are  many  "  surgeons  "  and  "  therapists  "  around  the 
city  who,  a  little  while  ago,  were  shoemakers,  carpenters,  or 
smiths,  and  who,  perhaps,  keep  up  their  old  handicraft  on 
the  side.  Six  months  is  time  enough  to  learn  a  little  medical 
jargon  while  serving  as  "  disciple "  to  some  experienced 
doctor ;  after  that,  let  the  invalids  beware. 

Under  such  circumstances  the  glory  of  the  medical  pro- 
fession suffers.  Rightly  did  Pliny  the  Elder  complain  of 
doctors :  "  Any  voluble  person  has  powers  of  life  and  death 
over  us,  just  as  though  thousands  of  persons  did  not  live  on 
without  doctoring,  as  Rome  existed  for  six  hundred  years 
[before  the  first  physicians  came]."  Such  gentry  inevitably, 
if  they  fail  at  quackery,  can  then  drift  off  to  something  else, 
and  very  familiar  is  Martial's  epigram :  "  Diaulus  has  been 
a  surgeon  and  is  now  an  undertaker.  At  last  he's  begun  to 
be  useful  to  the  sick  in  the  only  way  that  he's  able." 

i  See  "A  Day  in  Old  Athens,"  p.  77. 


Physicians  and  Funerals  161 

139.  Superior  Class  of  Physicians, — Nevertheless,  the 
physicians  of  Rome  are  by  no  means  all  of  them  charlatans. 
If  their  theories  are  grossly  imperfect^  many  of  them  are  men 
of  wide  experience  and  keen  insight.     A  sick  man  able  to 
command  the  best,  need  not  give  up  in  despair  unless  his  case 
is  really  complicated  and  difficult.     Great  cures  are  recorded, 
as  that  of  Augustus,  whose  life  was  saved  in  a  most  critical 
illness  by  the  "  cold-water  treatment "  ordered  by  his  doc- 
tor, the  wise  freedman  Antonius  Musa  —  a  cure  which  by 
saving  an  all-important  life  affected  the  world's  history. 

Whatever  their  qualifications,  physicians,  if  not  highly 
educated,  assuredly  abound  in  large  numbers.  Every  char- 
tered city  maintains  a  corps  of  them  for  the  free  treatment 
of  the  citizens,  and  keeps  up  public  hiatreia  —  well- 
lighted,  spacious  halls  for  offices  and  dispensaries.1  Every 
cohort  of  the  army  has  four  physicians  attached,  with  su- 
perior medical  officers  over  the  larger  divisions,  and  camp 
sanitation  has  been  worked  out  excellently  by  the  Roman 
military  experts. 

In  the  Imperial  Court,  the  archiater  ("  head  physician  ") 
is  a  well-paid  and  very  important  dignitary.  Between  him 
and  the  miserable  slave  doctors  who  bleed  and  physic  their 
fellows  in  the  private  f amilia  there  are  any  number  of  grada- 
tions. Most  of  the  doctors,  of  course,  practice  for  fees,  al- 
though in  Rome,  too,  a  system  of  free  clinics  and  dispensaries 
is  coming  in,  with  a  special  public  physician  for  each  of  the 
fourteen  regions  of  the  city. 

140.  A  Fashionable  Doctor.  —  A  doctor  of  the  superior 
kind  is  Symmachus  whom  Calvus  summons  whenever  any 
of  his  own  family  are  seriously  ill.    he  has  one  of  the  most 
fashionable  practices  in  Rome,  and  his  annual  income  is  not 

1  Antoninus  Pius,  the  ruler  succeeding  Hadrian,  formally  enjoined  the 
remission  of  civic  burdens  for  "community  physicians"  in  the  Province 
of  Asia ;  five  in  small  cities,  seven  in  larger  ones,  and  ten  in  the  largest. 


A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

much  under  that  of  Quintus  Stertinus  whose  fees  in  Claudius's 
day  brought  him  600,000  sesterces  ($24,000)  per  year.  A 
high-grade  physician  does  not  render  a  monthly  bill.  He 
expects  to  be  paid  once  annually  —  on  the  first  of  January. 
Besides  he  counts  on  receiving  a  substantial  legacy  whenever 
a  regular  patient  at  length  escapes  him  and  dies.  Lower 


grade  doctors,  however,  are  less  delicate.  They  are  charged 
with  being  greedy  for  unreasonable  fees  and  with  prolonging 
illnesses  easily  curable,  demanding  outrageous  sums  for 
common  medicines,  and  taking  every  sordid  advantage  of  the 
needs  of  the  sick. 

Symmachus  is  apparently  above  all  such  gaucheries.  He 
has  been  trained  to  bear  himself  as  a  polished  gentleman. 
His  visits  are  long  or  short  according  to  the  desires  of  his 
patients.  He  never  blurts  out  unpleasant  truths  and  he 

Physicians  and  Funerals  163 

always  repeats  the  Hippocratic  maxim,  "  A  cure  depends  on 
three  things,  the  sick  man,  his  sickness,  and  the  physician  "  ; 
and  that  the  physician's  business  is  to  help  the  sick  man  to 
cure  himself.  The  result  is  that  while  his  anatomical  theories 
would  distress  a  later  age,  and  some  of  his  medicines  are  very 
crude,  he  often  effects  excellent  results  especially  in  those 
cases  where  mental  therapeutics  can  avail  a  little. 

Such  a  doctor  possesses  a  set  of  surgical  instruments  quite 
as  good  as  any  available  in  a  later  age  until  at  least  the  time 
of  the  French  Revolution,  and  assuredly  he  knows  how  to 
use  them  very  skillfully.  He  can  dull  pain  for  operations  or 
induce  sleep  by  juice  of  mandragora  or  atropin,  and  he  can 
operate  for  cataract  by  distending  the  eye-pupil  by  anagallis. 
Delicate  surgical  operations,  however,  he  will  probably  turn 
over  to  specialists.  There  are  such  surgeons  who  operate, 
no  doubt  with  reasonable  success,  for  hernia  and  fistula,  who 
take  out  gall-stones,  and  deal  with  very  dangerous  fractures. 
There  are  also  lesser  specialists  who  can  remove  or  fill  aching 
teeth  and  can  banish  superfluous  hair,  and  there  is  one^shrewd 
old  fellow  who  commands  a  princely  income  —  he  can  really 
erase  the  degrading  marks  of  branding  upon  slaves,  after 
they  become  lordly  freedmen. 

141.  Medical  Books  and  Famous  Remedies.  —  Symma- 
chus  affects  to  be  a  man  of  professional  learning.  He  pos- 
sesses and  claims  to  have  studied  carefully  the  great  medical 
treatises  of  Hermogenes  of  Smyrna  in  72  books,  and  that  of 
Tiberius  Claudius  Menecrates  in  156  books.  To  impress 
his  patients  he  will  talk  learnedly  of  the  jangling  theories  of 
the  "  Dogmatics/'  and  "  Methodics,"  "  Pneumaticists," 
etc.,  although  professing  himself  to  be  an  "  Eclectic."  How- 
ever, his  own  shrewd  common  sense  is  usually  of  greater  avail 
than  all  his  books. 

A  large  part  of  a  popular  physician's  gains  come  not  from 
regular  fees,  but  from  supplying  his  patients  with  medicine. 

164  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

There  are  many  shops  selling  crude  drugs  in  Rome  but  no 
regular  prescription  pharmacists.1  Public  opinion  avers 
that  the  more  costly  remedies  are  always  the  best,  and  Sym- 
machus  does  not  discourage  that  idea  too  much,  although 
telling  his  select  patients  that  cheap  medicaments  often  are 
as  effective.  It  is  often  hard,  however,  to  get  pure  drugs, 
and  genuine  ingredients.2  Even  the  best  doctors  will  be 
deceived  by  oriental  drug  dealers  palming  off  false  balsams, 
and  similar  commodities. 

Many  physicians  consider  it  professional  to  keep  their 
remedies  secret,  and  boast  of  private  formulas,  which  they 
will  not  share  with  their  rivals.  In  Tiberius's  day  there 
was  a  Paccius  Antiochus  who  prepared  a  marvellous  powder, 
a  kind  of  panacea  for  many  ills.  He  compounded  it  behind 
locked  doors  and  mystified  even  his  assistants  as  to  its  nature ; 
but  on  his  death  he  had  the  decency  to  bequeath  his  formula 
to  the  Emperor  who  had  it  deposited  for  inspection  in  all 
the  public  libraries ;  and  Hadrian  has  just  done  the  same  with 
some  formulas  left  by  the  great  Marcellus  of  Side. 

142.  Absurd  Medicines.  Theriac.  —  Some  of  these  reme- 
dies are  of  an  extraordinary  nature  and  so  intelligent  a  man 
as  Symmachus  can  have  no  confidence  in  them.  Still  plenty 
of  good  doctors  will  tell  you  that  a  piece  of  hyena-skin  is  an 
excellent  remedy  for  mad-dog  bites,  and  that  certain  very 
filthy  substances  make  good  poultices  for  swellings.  The 
imperial  government  actually  employs  several  slaves  to 
catch  adders,  whence  are  derived  several  important  medica- 
ments ;  and  it  is  claimed  that  medicines  to  cure  gall-stones 
must  be  pounded  with  a  pestle  that  contains  no  iron.  There 
is  no  need  to  dwell  on  the  absurd  articles  foisted  on  the  gulli- 

1  Establishments  selling  ready  prepared  salves,  plasters,  and  other 
standard  remedies  were  not  unknown,  and  must  have  supplied  many 

2  Chemical  analysis  was,  of  course,  unknown. 

Physicians  and  Funerals  165 

ble  by  the  quacks ;  pills  made  from  dried  bugs  and  centipedes 
are  among  the  very  least  obnoxious. 

There  is  supposed  to  be  a  specific  medicine  for  every  dis- 
ease, and  Symmachus's  office  is  crammed  with  little  chests 
bearing  such  labels  as  "  Drug  from  Berytus  for  watery  eyes. 
Instantaneous  ";  "  Ointment  for  gout.  Made  for  Proculus, 
imperial  freedman.  Safe  Cure  ";  "Remedy  for  scab.  Tested 
successfully  by  Pamphilius  during  the  great  scab  epidemic," 
or  "  Eye-sake  tried  by  Florus  on  Antonia,  wife  of  Prince 
Drususf  after  other  doctors  had  nearly  blinded  her"  1  There 
is  also  a  large  box  of  famous  compound  to  be  used  whenever 
diagnosis  is  uncertain.  Theriac  is  a  mixture  of  sixty-one  dif- 
ferent elements  including  dried  adders.  Whoever  takes  it  is 
sure  to  find  at  least  one  substance  that  will  assist  his  disease ; 
and  it  is  prescribed  by  almost  every  physician  at  the  opening 
stages  of  a  malady,  before  he  can  attempt  diagnosis. 

143.  Fear  of  Poisoning.  Popularity  of  Antidotes.  —  A 
large  part  of  the  doctor's  drug  collection  is,  however,  made 
up  of  antidotes  for  poisons.  Everybody  dreads  being  poi- 
soned. Many  peculiar  deaths  which  ought  to  be  diagnosed  as 
caused  by  natural  illness  are  charged  up  to  venomous  drugs  2 
and  indeed  a  deadly  dose  rather  than  a  deadly  dagger  seems 
a  favorite  means  for  murder.  People  still  whisper  stories  of 
that  awful  poison-vender,  the  woman  Locusta,  who  probably 
supplied  Nero's  mother  Agrippina  with  the  fatal  powder  she 
sprinkled  on  her  husband  Claudius's  dish  of  mushrooms,  and 
then  another  dose  to  Nero  himself  to  kill  his  stepbrother, 
Britannicus,  with  a  highly  spiced  goblet. 

1  These  titles  and  much  more  of  the  data  here  given  are  from  the 
writings  of  the  great  Galen  —  the  master  physician  of  the  imperial  age ; 
who  wrote  his  books  under  Commodus  about  185  A.D. 

*  As  in  the  case  of  the  death  of  Caesar  Gennanicus  (19  A.D,)  whose 
death  at  Antioch  was  probably  natural,  but  which  all  his  friends  attri- 
buted to  poison  given  by  his  personal  enemy,  the  Pro-consul  Piso. 

166  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

If  a  man  has  many  deadly  foes,  he  is  likely  to  take  a  potion 
of  the  precious  theriac  daily  —  because  antidotes  for  so 
many  poisons  are  carried  in  the  compound  ;  and  all  histories 
tell  how  Mithridates  of  Pontus,  that  famous  adversary  of 
Sulla  and  Pompeius,  used  to  take  antidotes  so  constantly  that 
he  became  entirely  immune  to  the  venoms  prepared  by  all 
his  enemies.  Symmachus,  as  part  of  his  stock  in  trade, 
therefore,  keeps  the  proper  antidotes  for  all  such  familiar 
poisons  as  hemlock,  opium,  henbane,  gypsum,  white  lead, 
etc.,  as  well  as  for  many  obscurer  foods  of  evil.  Rumor  says 
that  not  long  since  he  had  to  use  several  of  them  on  the  old 
ex-consul,  Annseus,  whose  spendthrift  sons  seemed  very 
anxious  to  get  their  inheritance. 

144.  Medical  Students, "  Disciples,"  Beauty  Specialists.  — 
Symmachus  like  all  responsible  physicians  keeps  an  office 
on  a  good  street,  but  although  patients  can  visit  him  there, 
the  place  is  mainly  for  the  compounding  of  medicines  by  vari- 
ous slaves  under  the  direction  of  several  "  disciples."  There 
are  no  medical  schools  in  Rome,1  and  these  young  disciples 
follow  their  master  about,  study  a  little,  and  learn  by  watch- 
ing him.  They  are  kept  away  from  his  most  select  patients ; 
but  are  allowed  to  troop  into  the  sick  room  of  the  poorer, 
feel  of  the  pulse,  examine  the  wounds,  etc.,  in  a  manner 
most  distressing.  People,  in  fact,  dread  to  call  in  a  doctor  — 
it  often  means  being  felt  over  not  by  one  but  by  a  half 
dozen  clammy  hands,  usually  when  one  is  very  ill.2 

In  addition  to  the  men  of  medicine  are  the  "  beauty  spe- 
cialists "  —  persons  who  claim  to  have  reduced  the  supple- 
menting of  nature  to  a  science.  A  court  physician  Crito 
once  wrote  four  books  of  standard  authority  on  the  com- 

1  Probably  there  were  such  in  the  eastern  provinces. 

2  Without  clinical  thermometers  or  second-watches,   the  taking  of 
temperature,  timing  of  pulse,  etc.,  must  have  been  a  very  tedious  and 
disagreeable  as  well  as  uncertain  process. 

Physicians  and  Funerals  167 

pounding  of  cosmetics.  Every  physician  is  called  upon  to 
prescribe  skin  washes,  depilatories  for  rendering  the  bodies 
of  young  dandies  perfectly  hairless,  and  formulae  for  fra- 
grances for  clothes  or  chambers;  but  it  takes  a  specialist 
to  know  the  intricacies  of  rouge  and  enamel,  and  otherwise 
to  assist  the  ladies.  The  dividing  line  also  between  the 
physician  and  the  hairdresser  is  not  always  easy  to  mark. 
Petronius  tells  about  the  dames  who  not  merely  have  abun- 
dant false  hair,  but  "  take  their  eyebrows  out  of  a  little  box  " 
and  "  put  their  teeth  away  at  night  just  as  they  do  their 

146.  Cheap  Doctors:  No  Hospitals.  —  The  inferior  grades 
of  doctors  do  a  great  deal  of  office  work.  In  mere  booths 
or  small  shops  opening  upon  the  street  they  receive  patients, 
sometimes  even  standing  by  the  door  and  bidding  the  hesitant 
"  Step  in  1 "  Their  surgeries  are  decked  out  with  a  display 
of  ivory  boxes,  silver  cupping  glasses,  and  golden-handled 
lancets,  —  the  more  incompetent  the  leech  the  greater  often 
being  the  display. 

To  advertise  their  skill  practitioners  of  this  class  will  often 
set  bones  and  perform  minor  operations  before  a  gaping 
crowd  just  outside  in  the  streets  —  actions  denounced  by 
men  of  Symmachus's  caliber ;  and  all  their  patients  are  ex- 
amined with  great  publicity.  Lower  still  are  the  itinerant 
quacks  who  will  diagnose  diseases  on  a  street  corner  and 
vend  alleged  theriac  and  other  "  medicines  "  from  a  pedlar's 
pack.  There  are  other  unlovely  members  of  the  profession 
who  grow  rich  by  performing  criminal  operations,  and  to 
whom  unfaithful  wives  or  legacy-seekers  ca&  appeal,  begging 
them  to  "  put  the  patient  out  of  his  misery  I  "  —  with  results 
deliberately  murderous.  More  legitimate  of  course  are  the 
numerous  women  who  attend  to  the  maladies  of  their  own 
sex.  Some  of  these  women  are  said  to  be  physicians  of  high 
capacity  and  able  to  command  generous  compensation. 

168  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

A  serious  handicap  to  medicine  exists  because  there  are  no 
public  hospitals  in  Rome,  although  sick  strangers  are  probably 
allowed  to  lie  around  the  Temples  of  Asculapius  or  of  other 
healing  deities.1  The  control  of  epidemics  is  very  imperfect. 
Rome  has  been  visited  severely  by  the  plague,  and  in  the 
reign  of  Marcus  Aurelius  it  will  be  ravaged  yet  again.  The 
age  is  a  brutal  one.  Much  is  done  to  keep  the  populace 
amused  and  to  delight  the  eye ;  relatively  little  to  preserve 
precious  human  lives.  In  the  great  slave  familia,  however, 
self-interest  if  no  better  motive  impels  the  owners  to  try  to 
keep  their  chattels  healthy.  As  already  explained  nearly 
every  slave  household  has  its  special  slave  physicians,  men 
of  tolerable  competence ;  and  there  is  also  the  valetudinarium, 
the  infirmary  —  a  detached  building  or  a  large  room  in  which 
sick  slaves  can  be  properly  tended,  and  also  isolated  to  pre- 
vent infection. 

146.  Suicide  as  Escape  from  Hopeless  Disease.  —  Sym- 
machus,  despite  his  reputation  for  "  wonderful  cures,"  has 
just  lost  a  wealthy  patient.  The  circumstances  were  some- 
what unusual  but  by  no  means  unprecedented.  Quintus 
Gordianus,  an  elderly  senator,  ha'd  been  suffering  from  a 
very  painful  internal  disease.  Symmachus  assured  him  the 
case  was  incurable,  but  that  he  might,  nevertheless,  live  for 
years.  Thereupon  Gordianus  announced  that  he  would 
commit  suicide. 

The  right  of  a  sane  man  voluntarily  to  surrender  his  life 
is  undoubted.  Philosophers  have  written  fine  essays  on  the 
desirability  of  suicide;  only  it  must  be  entered  upon  dis- 
creetly and  not  as  a  cowardly  means  of  escaping  the  duties 
of  life.  Many  of  Nero's  and  Domitian's  noble  victims  ob- 

1  Apparently  the  organization  of  public  hospitals  in  the  fourth  cen- 
tury of  our  era,  was  among  the  earliest  and  worthiest  of  the  distinctly 
Christian  charities,  after  the  toleration  of  Christianity  by  the  Roman 

Physicians  and  Funerals  169 

viously  obeyed  the  mandate  "  Open  your  veins  "  more  be- 
cause they  were  tired  of  existence  than  because  a  desperate 
attempt  to  overthrow  the  tyrant  would  have  been  hopeless. 
Many  a  Roman  aristocrat  has  sucked  all  the  sensual  pleasure 
so  completely  out  of  life  that  the  latter  has  become  one  great 
boredom,  and  no  religion  commands  "  Live  on !  "  when  it  is 
evident  that  the  remainder  of  existence  must  merely  be 
months  or  years  of  helplessness  and  pain. 

As  soon,  therefore,  as  Gordianus  was  satisfied  that  his  case 
was  hopeless  he  declared  to  his  relatives  that,  "  He  would 
starve  himself  to  death."  They  pleaded  with  him  faithfully 
and  caused  most  tempting  food  to  be  always  within  his  reach, 
but  later  they  took  pride  in  telling  of  his  iron  will  which  re- 
jected all  their  efforts.  At  last  the  end  came,  and  all  his 
circle  remarked  that  Gordianus  died  as  became  a  Roman 
senator  and  a  true  philosopher.  Suicides  for  more  trivial 
reasons  than  the  above  are,  of  course,  reported  every  day.1 

147.  Execution  of  Wills.  Numerous  Legacies  Custom- 
ary. —  Before  Gordianus  became  too  weak,  he  called  in  a 
group  of  friends  to  witness  the  revision  of  his  will.  The  right 
to  execute  a  will  is  a  precious  privilege  for  Homan  citizens,2 
and  the  law  allows  wide  options  in  disposing  of  one's  prop- 
erty. A  Roman  gentleman  makes  his  will  mny  times  and 
is  constantly  revising  or  adding  codicils  to  the  same.  Slaves 
are  not  supposed  to  make  testaments  —  their  small  pecidia 
must  legally  revert  to  their  masters;  but  the  more  decent 
owners  allow  even  slaves  to  bequeath  their  belongings  to 

1  Two  similar  cases  are  recorded  in  Pliny  the  Younger ;  in  one  of  them 
the  person  contemplating  suicide,  on  being  assured  by  the  physicians  that 
his  case  was  not  quite  desperate,  "  agreed  to  fight  on  a  little  longer." 

*  The  legal  status  of  women  made  it  needful  to  resort  to  various  legal 
fictions  when  they  drew  wills,  but  they  could  execute  effective  testa- 
ments also. 

170  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

A  will  implies  much  more  than  merely  distributing  one's 
property  among  near  kin.  Gordianus's  widow  and  son  were 
in  feet  well  content  when  they  found  not  more  than  two- 
fifths  of  the  large  estate  was  to  pass  outside  the  family.  It 
is  a  deadly  insult  —  all  the  more  deadly  because  the  departed 
are  beyond  retaliation  —  to  fail  to  remember  a  familiar  ac- 
quaintance with  a  sizable  legacy.1 

"  When  the  tablets  are  opened  "  all  Rome  knows  how  a 
man  has  paid  his  social  debts,  usually  to  people  who  have 
no  blood  connection. 

Was  the  ex-sedile  Numerius  angry  because  he  only  re- 
ceived 10,000  sesterces  ($400)?  And  why  was  that  ill- 
mannered  old  eques  Albinus  left  20,000  ?  And  why  was  the 
banker  Velocius,  once  such  a  confidant,  left  nothing  at  all  ? 
Did  Gordianus  wish  to  brand  the  last-named  as  a  scoundrel  ? 
The  list  of  slaves  enfranchised,  and  also  of  those  specifically 
refused  enfranchisement  is  caref Tilly  scanned ;  as  well  as  vari- 
ous legacies  to  certain  great  advocates  who  have  evidently 
rendered  Gordianus  service  in  tight  law-suits,  and  above  all  a 
sum  of  100,000  sesterces  ($4000)  to  "  Our  Lord  Hadrianus 
Augustus  Caesar."  Gordianus  had  been  by  no  means  a  great 
intimate  at  the  palace,  but  it  would  have  been  most  untactful 
to  fail  to  remember  the  Emperor.  Under  bad  rulers  such  a 
slight  would  probably  involve  the  actual  setting  aside  of  the 
will,  posthumous  charges  of  treason,  and  the  ruin  of  the  heirs 
by  the  confiscation  of  the  entire  property.  Under  a  good 
Emperor  such  an  insertion  puts  the  donor's  son  in  good  odor 
with  the  government,  and  insures  that  the  imperial  procura- 
tors (who  guard  their  master's  property)  will  assist  in  de- 
fending the  will  if  disgruntled  kinsmen  should  try  to  break  it. 

1  Still  greater  revenge  could  be  taken  by  making  insulting  references 
in  wills  to  old  enemies,  making  them  bequests  of  no  value,  or  burdened 
with  unwelcome  conditions,  or  even  explaining  at  length,  without  fear 
of  a  slander  suit,  why  no  bequest  was  left  to  them  at  all ! 

Physicians  and  Funerals  171 

148.  Regular  Incomes  from  Legacies.  Professional 
Legacy  Hunters.  —  The  granting  of  legacies  is  in  fact  so 
ordinary  a  part  of  Roman  life  that  distinguished  men  like 
Cicero  and  Pliny  the  Younger  can  almost  count  on  a  steady 
flow  of  bequests  (often  from  people  whom  they  know  but 
slightly)  as  part  of  their  income.  Gordianus  is  leaving  a 
mature  and  proper  son  to  take  over  his  great  name,  clients, 
and  a  good  share  of  his  property.  His  bequests  therefore 
are  relatively  small,  and  that  fact  robs  his  will  of  most  of  its 
interest.  If,  however,  he  had  been  childless,  all  Rome  would 
have  been  agog  as  soon  as  people  knew  that  he  was  dying. 
Great,  if  evil,  are  "  the  advantages  of  childlessness."  The 
rich  bachelor  is  sure  of  obsequious  service  from  innumerable 
quarters.  The  more  he  coughs  and  the  paler  he  grows,  the 
more  the  presents  he  receives  and  the  more  do  loudly  con- 
doling friends  press  to  his  bedside.  They  reach  the  very 
depth  of  servility,  and  sometimes  they  are  rewarded. 

Years  ago  Horace  gave  directions  to  the  successful  legacy 
hunter.  "  If  a  man  hands  you  his  will  to  read,  be  sure  to 
refuse  and  push  the  wax  tablets  from  you  —  yet  take  a  side- 
glance  to  catch  the  second  line  of  the  first  table  [below  the 
preamble].  Run  your  eye  quickly  along  to  see  whether  you 
are  the  sole  heir  or  one  of  many."  If  the  prospective  victim 
has  a  "  crafty  woman,  or  a  freedman  looking  after  the  do- 
tard, strike  a  partnership  with  them  and  praise  them  to  him, 
that  they  may  praise  you  behind  your  back."  Then  when 
the  testator  at  last  dies  lament  him  loudly,  as  a  "  worthy  and 
true  friend/'  shed  as  many  tears  as  you  can,  and  don't  grudge 
a  splendid  funeral. 

Thus  fortunes  can  be  and  often  are  won,  but  not  invariably. 
In  Trajan's  reign  there  died  a  rich  Domitius  TuIIus.  He 
allowed  the  legacy  hunters  to  fasten  upon  him ;  to  shower 
him  with  all  kinds  of  favors  —  then  he  actually  left  every- 
thing to  a  niece  and  to  grandchildren.  All  Rome  was 

172  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

divided :  "  Perfidious  hypocrite !  "  some  gossips  buzzed  in 
the  great  baths ;  but  others  praised  him  for  "  cheating  the 
hopes  of  the  rascals." 

149.  Public  Bequests.  —  Gordianus,  besides  these  legacies 
to  friends,  also  makes  some  public  bequests.  This  is  an  age 
when  the  rich  are  expected  to  justify  their  good  fortune  by 
showering  favors  upon  the  community.  If  the  rich  testator 
had  lived  in  a  municipal  town,  he  would  have  been  expected 
in  his  life  time  to  have  provided  feasts,  public  games,  new 
civic  buildings,  and  probably  to  have  repaired  the  city  walls. 
As  it  is,  he  leaves  the  cost  of  a  good  gladiator  fight  to  an 
Italian  town  that  once  elected  him  patron;  increases  the 
endowment  for  a  public  library  which  he  had  earlier  founded 
at  another  such  town  near  one  of  his  villas ;  and  institutes  a 
trust  fund  to  provide  an  annual  feast  in  honor  of  his  "  Manes  " 
to  be  shared  in  by  all  the  freedmen  of  his  family  and  by  their 
own  descendants. 

160.  Great  Funerals  Very  Fashionable.  Desire  to  Be 
Remembered  after  Death.  —  Before  he  died,  Gordianus 
also  gave  particular  orders  about  his  funeral.  Every  Roman 
seems  to  look  forward  to  his  obsequies  with  a  melancholy, 
but  an  enormous  interest.  If  he  is  poor,  he  hoards  his  money 
and  joins  a  cooperative  burial  society  to  provide  for  final 
rites  that  will  be  long  remembered.  If  he  is  rich,  he  will 
leave  nothing  undone  to  succeed  in  impressing  the  entire  city 
that  it  has  lost  an  important  citizen.  Under  the  Republic 
the  funerals  of  great  personages  were  really  public  pageants, 
deliberately  calculated  to  teach  young  nobles  the  glory  of  a 
long  career  spent  in  the  service  of  the  state.  Under  the 
Empire  these  customs  are  still  maintained,  although  often 
they  are  nothing  more  than  vulgar  displays  showing  forth 
the  wealth  of  the  deceased, 

The  age  does  not  believe  earnestly  in  immortality.    Epi- 

Physicians  and  Funerals  173 

cureans  deny  it  outright,  and  Stoics  more  than  doubt.  Some- 
times a  very  gross  view  of  death  is  taken,  that  it  is  merely 
the  careless  end  of  a  round  of  sensual  pleasures.  You  can 
occasionally  read  on  tombstones  inscriptions  like  this: 
"  Bathing,  wine,  and  love-a/airs  —  these  hurt  our  bodies,  but 
they  make  life  worth  living.  I've  lived  my  days.  I  revelled, 
and  I  drank  all  that  I  desired.  Once  I  was  not;  then  I  was; 
now  I  am  not  again  —  but  I  don't  care!"  1  But  most  per- 
sons, especially  grave  Stoics  like  Gordianus,  view  death  other- 
wise. Death  means  a  going  out  into  the  dark ;  a  process  of 
being  forgotten  by  those  who  once  loved  or  admired  you. 
If,  by  a  splendid  funeral,  you  can  make  your  memory  last  a 
little  longer,  who  would  fail  having  one?  Hence  the  ex- 
cuse for  very  costly  obsequies,  often  for  unimportant  indi- 

151.  Preliminaries  to  a  Funeral.  —  The  moment  Gordi- 
anus seemed  to  be  breathing  his  last  his  son  bent  over  his 
face  as  if  to  catch  his  final  sigh.  Then  immediately  the 
young  man  called  his  father  three  tunes  "  Quintus !  Quintus ! 
Quintus  1 "  partly  to  make  sure  he  was  dead ;  partly  as  a 
signal  to  start  off  all  the  expectant  slaves  and  freedmen  in 
loud  and  frenzied  lamentation  through  all  the  wide  domus. 
A  messenger  promptly  summoned  a  fashionable  libitinarius 
(funeral  director)  who  undertook  to  conduct  everything  in 
the  best  possible  style.  While  the  house  rang  with  outcries, 
professional  experts  washed  the  body  in  warm  water  and  took 
immediately  a  waxen  impression  of  the  features. 

The  dead  was  thereupon  dressed  in  an  embroidered  toga, 
such  as  he  might  have  worn  when  a  magistrate,  and  was 
placed  on  a  gilded  couch  in  the  atrium  with  the  feet  towards 
the  door,  besides  which  was  set  a  bunch  of  cypress  or  pine, 
in  token  of  the  sorrow  in  the  house.  Skillful  embalmers 

1  An  actual  tomb  inscription. 

174  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

were  available  and  the  actual  funeral  could  have  been  de- 
layed as  much  as  a  week.  This  was  not  necessary,  however, 
and  the  ceremony  took  place  in  two  days  —  time  enough  to 
arrange  the  great  pyre  and  other  necessary  matters. 

The  old  practice  was  for  every  funeral  to  be  held  at  night, 
and  "  funeral  torches  "  were  once  about  as  common  along  the 
streets  as  the  more  festive  marriage  torches.  But  under  the 
Empire  the  greater  display  can,  of  course,  be  made  by  day- 
time, although  by  a  peculiar  survival  a  few  torch  bearers 
will  solemnly  march  along  in  the  procession  as  if  to  outvie 
the  sunlight. 

The  mustering  of  a  large  funeral  procession  calls  for  no 
mean  executive  skill.  If  the  deceased  is  from  an  old  family, 
persons  must  be  hired  to  wear  all  the  death  masks  found  in 
his  atrium,  and  costumes  improvised  or  rented  so  that  the 
wearers  can  appear  as  consuls,  prsetors,  etc.,  and  all  the 
various  articles  and  exhibits  needful  for  the  procession  must 
be  assembled.  Above  all  there  must  appear  at  the  house  of 
mourning  a  clever  Greek  actor,  selected  partly  because  of 
some  physical  resemblance  to  the  dead.  This  is  the  archi- 
mimus,  who  carefully  confers  with  Gordianus's  freedmen 
and  even  with  his  son  to  learn  the  speech,  mannerisms,  and 
the  personal  foibles  of  the  departed. 

152.  The  Funeral  Procession.  The  Display  of  Masked 
"  Ancestors."  —  At  last  at  a  time  sure  to  command  the  best 
attention,  the  criers  begin  going  about  all  the  streets  where 
Gordianus  is  likely  to  have  had  friends.  They  shout  a  for- 
mula in  quaint,  archaic  Latin.  "  This  citizen,  Quintus  Gor- 
dianus, is  being  surrendered  to  death.  For  those  who  find 
it  convenient,  now  is  the  time  for  his  funeral.  He  is  being 
borne  from  his  house !  "  and  the  procession  sets  forth  com- 
manded by  a  master-undertaker  —  the  pompous  designator. 

At  the  head  marches  a  band  of  players,  their  flutes,  lyres, 
and  dulcimers  keeping  up  a  most  melancholy  music.  Then 

Physicians  and  Funerals  175 

unavoidably  follows  a  whole  platoon  of  professional  clpwns 
and  buffoons  singing  ribald  songs  and  shouting  very  coarse 
jokes  to  the  thronging  spectators.  Next,  apparently,  there 
walks  Gordianus  himself  —  it  is  the  archimimus  dressed  like 
the  ex-consul,  imitating  his  gait,  gestures,  and  voice,  and  even 
making  broad  personal  jests  at  the  expense  of  the  deceased. 
Then  follows  the  really  imposing  part  of  the  display,  and  the 
bereaved  widow  and  her  son  thrill  with  aristocratic  pride  at 
the  thought  of  it.  Theirs  is  a  very  old  house,  and  a  hundred 
actors  are  needed  to  wear  all  the  wax  imagines  (often  battered 
and  blackened)  from  the  great  cupboards  in  the  atrium.  All 
his  "  curule  ancestors "  going  back  to  the  Gallic  invasion 
seem  to  be  accompanying  Gordianus  to  the  grave.  The  spec- 
tators are  checking  off  the  "  consuls  "  and  "  sediles  "  on 
their  fingers,  and  at  last  some  cry  "  a  censor,"  and  presently 
even  more  admiringly  a  "  dictator."  l  One  can  almost  feel 
that  it  is  no  misfortune  to  die,  if  only  one  can  look  forward 
properly  to  this  moment  of  posthumous  glory. 

153.  The  Exhibits  in  the  Procession.  The  Retinue 
around  the  Bier.  —  Behind  the  procession  of  death-masks 
come  slaves  bearing  on  poles  large  crudely  sketched  pictures 
upon  boards,  showing  incidents  in  the  Dacian  wars  where 
then*  master  commanded  as  one  of  Trajan's  legates.  Gordi- 
anus also  had  dabbled  in  literature,  and  copies  of  his  essays 
and  poems  are  now  tied  on  tall  rods  and  carried  along  con- 
spicuously by  the  marchers.  Next  comes  the  corpse  itself 
—  exposed  to  view,  upon  a  couch  decked  with  purple,  fretted 
with  gold,  and  carried  aloft  upon  the  shoulders  of  eight  picked 
bearers.  All  can  see  that  Gordianus  wears  the  "triumphal 

1 A  hundred  imagines  of  curule  ancestors  would  be  a  very  respectable 
but  not  an  extraordinary  showing.  When  young  Marcellus  (Augustus's 
nephew)  died,  six  hundred  imagines  of  noble  ancestors  were  borne  in  his 

176  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

ornaments,"  the  laurel  wreath  as  well  as  the  toga  prsetexta 
awarded  the  favorite  generals  in  the  army.1 

After  that  follows  the  family  procession.  Young  Gordi- 
anus  is  robed  in  black,  and  leads  by  the  hand  his  motner,  a 
venerable  matron,  who  wears  the  mourning  color  for  women, 
white,  and  who  lets  her  gray  locks  stream  in  disorder  over 
her  shoulders.  If  he  had  possessed  sisters,  they  would  now 
tear  their  hair,  dig  their  nails  in  their  cheeks,  and  utter  pierc- 
ing cries  of  grief.  This  clamor  is  produced  sufficiently  by  a 
group  of  slave  women  led  by  two  or  three  professional  female 
wailers  who,  at  intervals,  set  up  a  shrill  chant  of  lamentation 
for  the  dead.  Next  follow  a  great  company  of  Gordianus's 
more  distinguished  friends,  all  walking  with  down-cast  looks 
and  clad  in  black  or  sad-colored  togas.  After  them  is  the 
large  retinue  from  the  familia,  first  the  older  freedmen,  then 
groups  of  ex-slaves  wearing  tall  caps  —  token  of  manumission 
by  will,  and  trying  not  to  appear  too  exultant  in  their  new 
freedom,  then  bringing  up  the  rear  the  whole  group  of  actual 
slaves,  supposed  to  be  torn  with  grief  at  the  loss  of  "  so  good 
a  master." 

154.  The  Funeral  Oration  in  the  Forum.  —  The  procession 
heads  at  first  not  toward  the  place  of  the  final  pyre  but  toward 
the  Old  Forum.  The  honor  of  a  public  funeral  oration  is 
granted  to  practically  every  distinguished  citizen,  including 
many  noblewomen.  Indeed,  this  use  of  the  Forum  is  an  ex- 
tremely common  occurrence.  The  space  around  the  orator's 
stand  (the  rostra)  has  been  cleared  of  idlers,  and  an  array  of 
suitable  "  curule  chairs  "  has  been  set  out  for  all  the  wearers 
of  the  death  masks,  as  if  they  were  again  sitting  like  the 
magistrates  of  old. 

After  a  suitable  delay  a  kinsman  of  the  deceased,  a  senator 
somewhat  vain  of  his  reputation  as  an  orator,  mounts  the 

1  Under  the  Empire  only  the  Emperor  could  actually  ride  in  a  triumph ; 
but  his  lieutenants  could  enjoy  the  "triumphal  ornaments." 

Physicians  and  Funerals  177 

rostra  and  delivers  a  fulsome  eulogy.  It  is  notorious  that 
such  rt  laudations  "  never  stick  closely  to  the  truth.  The 
audience  is  made  to  understand  that  Gordianus  was  a  very 
Cato  the  Elder  in  personal  virtue  and  a  Scipio  Africanus  in 
his  success  as  a  general.  When  that  ceremony  is  completed 
the  whole  company  sets  forth  again  —  this  time  toward  one 
of  the  gates  beyond  which  is  the  funeral  pyre.1 

155.  Family  Tombs.  The  Columbarium  and  the  Garden. 
—  Burials  are  not  unknown  in  Rome,  but  most  bodies  are 
disposed  of  by  cremation.  Even  persons  of  very  modest 
means  will  try  to  provide  money  for  a  good  pyre.  This  is 
partly  because  the  very  poor,  the  worthless  slaves,  and  the 
lowest  of  the  plebeians,  are  not  burned,  but  their  bodies  simply 
are  dumped  in  hideous  open  pits  not  far  from  the  Esquiline 
itself.  Nothing  is  done  to  the  bodies  thus  exposed  except 
to  leave  them  to  the  dogs  and  ravens,  and  only  the  favor  of 
Jupiter  averts  from  the  city  an  incessant  pestilence  in  con- 
sequence. Long  since,  however,  Gordianus's  family  has 
erected  along  the  Appian  Way  (though  another  frequented 
highroad  could  have  been  selected)  a  stately  tomb,  calculated 
to  attract  attention  from  all  passers. 

Handsome  tombs  can  take  many  forms';  there  is  even  a 
good-sized  stone  pyramid,  116  feet  high,  erected  to  guard  the 
ashes  of  Gaius  Cestius,  a  great  man  under  Augustus.  That 
of  the  Gordiani  is  of  a  more  modest  character;  a  circular 
masonry  tower,  about  fifty  feet  in  diameter  and  rather  higher, 
surmounted  by  castellated  battlement  adorned  with  life- 
sized  marble  statues  of  famous  members  of  the  family.  In- 
side there  is  no  huge  chamber  for  a  sarcophagus,  but  simply 
a  series  of  arched  vaults  the  walls  of  which  are  honey-combed 
with  little  niches,  each  intended  to  receive  a  funeral  urn. 

1  The  granting  of  an  actual  funeral  pyre  inside  of  Rome  was  an  extraor- 
dinary honor  —  reserved  only  for  emperors  and  other  unusually  favored 


A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

This  kind  of  interior,  therefore,  is  not  unhappily  called  a 
columbarium  —  a  "  pigeon-cote  " ;  and  here  will  be  placed 
not  merely  the  urns  of  all  the  regular  scions  of  the  family,  but 
(in  inferior  niches  of  course)  those  of  all  the  freedmen  and 
even  of  all  the  better  loved  slaves.  The  ashes  of  the  Gordiani, 
mighty  or  humble  therefore  rest  all  together. 

SCENE  ALONG  THE  APPIAN  WAY  :  showing  the  tombs  and  the  gay  crowds 


Outside  this  massive  tower  there  is  a  considerable  open 
compound,  laid  out  as  a  pleasant  garden,  with  shrubbery, 
flower-beds,  and  a  little  lodge  for  the  slave  in  residence  who 
acts  as  caretaker.  There  is  even  a  small  but  handsome 
building,  where  members  of  the  family  can  meet  for  the 
periodic  feasts  in  honor  of  the  dear  departed.  Handsome 
statues  and  fine  bas-reliefs  on  the  inclosing  walls  abound, 
and  the  place  in  short  seems  much  more  like  a  small  pleasure 
park  than  a  cemetery.  This  mortuary  compound,  however, 
is  one  of  the  better  types  of  inclosures.  The  taste  displayed 

Physicians  and  Funerals 


in  some  adjacent  is  execrable.  Already  across  the  Appian 
Way  opposite,  a  rich  freedman  has  purchased  a  large  lot  and 
is  erecting  in  his  own  life-time  a  tall  central  statue  of  himself, 
flinging  money  from  a  bag  to  the  populace,  with  the  base 
surrounded  by  bas-reliefs  showing  his  favorite  small  dog, 
some  gladiator  fights,  and  deep-laden  craft  under  full  sail  — 
to  explain  how  he  made  his  money.1 

PYRAMID — TOMB  OF  GAIUS  CESTIUS  :  Ostia  Gate  of  the  Wall  of  Aurelian 
(built  circ.  275  A.D.)  in  background. 

For  many  miles  out  into  the  Campagna  around  Rome  ex- 
tend these  strange  cemeteries  —  not  in  seclusion,  but  passed 
by  incessant  traffic.  Some  of  the  monuments  are  magnifi- 
cent, some  simple ;  they  illustrate  almost  every  type  of  sculp- 
ture —  but  the  object  of  nearly  all  is  the  same,  to  remind 
the  living  of  the  one-time  existence  of  the  dead,  and  so  to 

1This,  of  course,  was  the  monument  which  Trimalchio,  Petronius's 
famous  character,  arranged  for  himself. 


A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

provide  a  kind  of  spurious  immortality  often  for  very  com- 
monplace persons,  in  an  age  when  the  immortality  of  the  soul 
seems  no  favored  doctrine. 

156.  The  Funeral  Pyre  and  Its  Ceremonies.  —  At  last 
the  funeral  procession  has  reached  the  great  mausoleum  of 
the  Gordiani.  The  pyre  of  choice  wood,  sprinkled  with 
perfumes,  unguents,  and  costly  spices  is  ready  at  a  safe  dis- 


Restored  after  Von  Falke. 

tance.  The  sides  of  the  pile  have  been  covered  with  dark 
leaves,  while  cypress  boughs  have  been  set  upon  the  top. 
Amid  these  the  bier  and  the  corpse,  just  as  they  have  been 
borne,  are  now  planted  and  various  articles  of  clothing, 
jewelry,  trinkets,  etc.,  used  by  the  deceased  are  next  placed 
upon  the  pyre.  If  the  ex-counsel  had  been  a  younger  man 
fond  of  hunting,  deer  nets  and  boar  spears  might  have  been 
added;  or  favored  horses  and  dogs  slaughtered  and  their 
carcasses  added  to  the  pile. 

Physicians  and  Funerals 


At  length  all  is  ready.  Young  Gordianus  is  handed  a 
torch,  and  with  averted  face  he  touches  it  to  the  wood  im- 
pregnated with  perfumed  oils.  Instantly  a  great  blaze  shoots 
up,  the  smoke  from  the  aromatic  wood  smelling  most  sweetly. 
The  company  waits  in  mournful  silence  until  the  tall  pyre 
collapses  and  the  bier  "has  been  utterly  consumed.  Then  as 


the  fire  glows  away,  several  loyal  freedmen  dash  forward 
and  quench  it  with  great  jars  of  chilled  wine.  Certain  cal- 
cined bones  and  ashes  are  collected,  wrapped  in  fine  linen 
cloths  and  placed  in  a  superb  funeral  urn,  blue  and  white 
glass  cut  into  exquisite  designs,  showing  boys  piping  and 
treading  the  grapes  in  a  festival  of  Bacchus.  The  last  mor- 
tal remains  of  the  departed  senator  are,  therefore,  at  rest 
amid  scenes  eminently  cheerful. 

182  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

157.  Funeral  Monuments.     Memorial  Feasts  to  the  Dead. 
—  The  ceremony  is  over.     "  Vale!  "  —  and  again  "  Vale!  " 
cries  all  the  company  ere  departing.     The  urn  will  now  be 
placed  in  one  of  the  niches  in  the  columbarium;    but  in 
Gordianus's  honor  they  will  erect  a  special  statue,  at  its  base 
chiseled  a  peaceful  ship  gliding  steadily  toward  a  distant 
shore;   the  son  and  widow  evidently  recalling  the  peaceful 
thoughts  of  Cicero  in  his  essay  "  On  Old  Age  "  —  "  I  find  the 
nearer  I  come  to  the  time  of  death  the  more  I  feel  like  one 
who  begins  to  see  land,  and  knows  that  sometime  he  will 
enter  the  harbor  after  the  long  voyage." 

On  Gordianus's  birthday,  on  the  anniversary  of  his  death, 
and  also  for  eight  days  in  February  sacred  to  the  honored 
dead,  his  heirs  and  loyal  freedmen  will  visit  the  spot,  deck  his 
statue  with  wreaths  of  roses,  violets,  and  other  flowers,  sacri- 
fice a  black  sheep  or  pig  to  the  "  Manes,"  and  indulge  in  a 
feast  in  his  honor.  This  will  be  kept  up,  perhaps,  until  his 
own  son  is  placed  on  the  pyre  and  the  fame  of  the  "  great 
Gordianus  "  has  sunk  to  the  barest  memory. 

158.  Funerals   of   the   Poor.     "Funeral    Societies."  — 
We  have  witnessed  obsequies  of  a  rich  senator.    Less  favored 
persons,  of  course,  are  buried  with  ever-increasing  degrees  of 
simplicity.     There  is  almost  no  religious  element  in  Roman 
funerals.    The  bodies  of  unfortunates  can  be  disposed  of  with 
brutal  abruptness  and  lack  of  decorum,  but  the  great  host 
of  plebeians  and  of  those  freedmen  who  cannot  hope  for  an 
urn  in  the  columbarium  of  a  noble  family  have  a  recourse. 
They  oftefl.  club  together  in  a  "  Funeral  Society."     Every- 
body pays  a  fixed  assessment  into  a  common  chest ;   out  of 
these  funds  space  is  hired  in  one  of  the  great  public  columbaria 
which  are  often  erected  as  legitimate  speculations.    When  a 
member  dies  he  is  assured  of  a  respectable  procession  of  buf- 
foons and  weepers  (imagines  being  out  of  the  question),  a 
private  harangue  in  his  honor,  and  a  thoroughly  adequate 

Physicians  and  Funerals  183 

funeral  pyre.  Funds  not  needed  for  this  purpose  are  spent 
on  feasts  once  or  more  a  year  in  which  the  names  of  dead 
members  are  solemnly  commemorated. 

Some  of  these  funeral  "  colleges  "  are  really  elaborate 
affairs,  with  considerable  ritual,  a  permanent  hall,  and  a 
corps  of  elective  officers,  "  praetors/'  "  curators/'  etc.,  whose 
tinsel  pomp  makes  the  wearers  forget  that  most  of  the  time 
they  are  humble  plebeians  or  even  slaves.  The  collegia,  in 
other  words,  appeal  to  those  who  in  another  age  may  find  a 
certain  inferior  type  of  "  lodge  "  very  congenial.  They  are 
grandiloquently  named  for  some  patron  god,  calling  them- 
selves "  The  Worshippers  (cultores)  of  Apollo,"  or  perhaps 
for  an  Oriental  deity,  "  The  Servants  of  Serapis  " ;  but  their 
fundamental  purpose  is  the  same ;  to  insure  against  the  horrid 
thought  of  having  one's  body  flung  into  the  open  pits  of  the 
potter's  field  and  then  perhaps  having  one's  ghost  wander 
in  misery  over  sea  and  land  instead  of  finding  a  calm  oblivion 
in  Hades. 


159.  Theoretical  Rights  of  Father  over  Children.  The 
Patria  Potestas.  —  When  a  child  is  born  into  a  Roman  home 
the  father  has  complete  legal  rights  even  as  in  Athens  to 
determine  whether  it  is  to  live  or  to  die.1  If  theoretically 
he  has  the  terrific  power  as  pater  familias  to  kill  his  children 
in  later  life  if  they  merely  displease  him,  how  much  more  can 
he  claim  the  right  to  decide  that  "  This  boy  will  be  one  too 
many/'  or  "  We  can  afford  no  more  girls,"  or  "  This  child 
will  be  sickly  and  deformed."  If  his  decision  is  adverse, 
mother  and  nurse  may  beseech  in  vain ;  the  babe  is  simply 
"  exposed  "  —  that  is,  carried  by  a  slave  to  some  spot 
by  the  highway  and  left  to  perish.  This  harsh  old  law  is 

Possibly  such  deserted  children  will  be  taken  up  by  those 
whose  homes  are  desolate  and  who  require  consolation. 
There  is  a  greater  and  fouler  chance  that  such  babes  will  be 
carried  away  and  reared  by  human  harpies  who  raise  boys 
and  girls  to  sell  as  victims  of  gross  wickedness  among  the 
rich,  or  who  even  mutilate  the  children  to  convert  them  into 
grotesque  buffoons  or  pathetic  beggars  to  wheedle  the  coppers 
from  the  tender-hearted.  Perhaps  some  of  those  horribly 
deformed  creatures  who  cry  "  Give !  Give !  "  behind  the 
litters  of  the  senators  are  blood  relations  to  the  gilded  lords 
themselves.  This  is  physically  possible,  if  we  can  believe 
many  ugly  stories. 

1  Compare  "A  Pay  m  Old  Athens,"  p.  57. 


Children  and  Schooling  185 

Legal  right  and  actual  custom  can  often,  however,  stand 
miles  asunder.  No  Roman  gladly  will  see  his  house  dying 
out,  despite  the  "  advantages  of  childlessness."  In  fact  to 
keep  up  the  family  name,  resort  is  often  had  to  adoption,  some- 
times of  mature  adults,  to  an  extent  quite  unknown  in  other 
ages.  The  upper  classes  under  the  Empire  are  dwindling  so 
rapidly,  thanks  to  many  causes,  that  rare  indeed  is  the  house 
where  a  lawful  child  is  unwelcome ;  and  in  the  lower  classes 
fathers  are  fathers  still.  In  short  though  the  cruel  old  "  right 
of  exposure  "  exists,  it  is  not  exercised  often  enough  to  make 
its  practice  a  wholesale  evil,  and  a  man  of  distinction  who 
exposes  a  babe  (unless  his  family  is  remarkably  large  and 
expensive)  will  fall  under  social  ostracism;  in  fact  the 
Emperor  may  even  be  advised  to  strike  him  from  the  list  of 
senators  or  equites  as  "  a  bad  citizen." 

160.  Ceremonies  after  Birth  of  a  Child.  The  BuUa. — 
The  birth  of  a  child  in  a  good  family  is,  therefore,  the  signal 
for  no  common  rejoicing,  and  thanks  to  the  favored  position 
of  Roman  women,  girls  are  not  a  serious  discount  as  against 
boys.  Then  comes  the  grand  celebration  —  the  lustratio, 
the  name-day  for  the  babe. 

This  occurs  nine  days  after  the  birth  of  boys  and  the 
eighth  after  that  of  girls;  the  idea  being  not  to  name  the 
child  prematurely  lest  it  die  in  first  infancy.  The  ceremony 
takes  place  in  the  atrium.  The  mother  cannot,  perhaps, 
be  present,  but  there  is  a  general  gathering  of  the  near  friends, 
kinsmen,  clients,  etc.,  before  whom  the  nurse  solemnly 
presents  herself  and  then  lays  her  little  bundle  of  swaddling 
clothes  at  the  feet  of  its  father.  With  equal  solemnity  the 
father  bends  and  takes  up  the  infant  and  with  his  formal 
"  lifting  up  "  the  whole  company  raises  a  shout  of  joy.1 

1  The  father  might  have  "taken  up"  the  child  earlier  to  indicate  his 
intentions  not  to  expose  it,  but  some  later  act  of  legal  acknowledgment 
before  witnesses  was  necessary. 

186  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

Henceforth,  the  babe  is  of  undoubted  legitimacy,  a  member 
of  the  family,  entitled  to  the  protection  alike  of  the  family 
lares  and  of  the  public  law,  and  a  new  citizen  of  the  Roman 
state.  Then  the  father,  turning  to  the  company,  if  the  child 
is  a  boy,  announces  in  clear  voice  his  prsenomen,  e.g.,  "  Let 
the  lad  be  called  Marcus  I  " 

After  these  formalities  are  ended  the  kinsmen  and  also  the 
favorite  slaves  rush  forward  and  throw  around  the  neck  of 
the  infant  cords  bearing  little  metal  toys,  tiny  swords,  axes, 
flowers,  or  even  dolls,  all  called  crepudia,  from  the  manner  in 
which  they  clank  together.  Most  important  of  all,  however, 
is  the  golden  bulla,  an  elaborate  locket  containing  charms, 
which  the  father  himself  hangs  about  the  child's  neck.  If 
the  family  is  poor,  one  of  painted  leather  may  answer,  but  a 
bulla  there  must  be.  It  will  never  be  laid  aside  permanently 
until  the  proud  day  when  the  grown-up  lad  "  assumes  the 
manly  toga,"  or  when  the  girl  leaves  her  parents'  house  as  a 

161.  The  Roman  Name :  Its  Intricacy.  —  It  is  no  slight 
thing,  this  matter  of  the  Roman  personal  names,  and  they 
are  far  more  complicated  than  are  the  Greek.  Under  the 
Republic  names  were  so  standardized  among  the  upper 
families,  that  those  of  a  young  nobleman  were  practically 
determined  the  moment  he  touched  the  cradle.  How  many 
"  Appii  Claudii  "  figure  in  the  history  of  the  Common- 
wealth! Omitting  technicalities,  practically  every  Roman 
citizen  then  had  three  names :  his  prcenomen,  a  personal 
designation  something  like  the  Christian  "  John "  or 
"  George,"  his  nomen,  fixed  on  him  by  his  gens  (special  clan) 
such  as  Cornelius,  Fabius,  Julius,  etc.,  and  finally  his  cogno- 
men, which  marked  the  particular  family  of  the  gens  to  which 
his  father  belonged.  Caesar,  Sulla,  Cicero,  Scipio,  and  the 
like  were  all  cognomens  corresponding  closely  to  later-day 
surnames,  and  were  anything  but  the  individual  property  of 

Children  and  Schooling  187 

certain  famous  holders  of  the  same.  Thus  even  a  cognomen 
could  have  many  bearers,  and  sometimes  a  second  cognomen 
was  added  —  such  as  Publius  Cornelius  Scipio  Nasica. 

This  is  all  very  well,  but  how  few  are  the  options  left  to  the 
parents  in  selecting  the  prsenomen !  There  are  only  eighteen 
regular  Roman  prsenomens,  of  which  Marcus,  Gaius,  and 
Lucius  are  perhaps  the  most  common.  Certain  families 
confine  themselves  to  a  very  few  prsenomens.  Thus  no  Cor- 
nelian ever  names  his  sons  anything  but  Gnaeus,  Lucius, 
and  Publius  unless  the  gods  bless  him  with  a  fourth  boy. 
The  Domitii  were  nearly  all  either  Gnseus  or  Lucius.  Rare 
was  the  Claudian  eldest  son  who  escaped  being  called 
Appius. * 

These  cases  simply  register  what  is  true  in  most  of  the  old 
families.  The  rule  is  to  name  your  first  son  always  after 
your  own  father.  Thus  Publius  Calvus's  young  Titus  is  the 
grandson  of  a  Titus  and  the  great  grandson  of  a  Publius. 
His  younger  brother,  however,  was  not  thus  named  by  rigid 
precedent.  He  could  be  named  Decimus.2 

162.  Irregular  and  Lengthy  Names  tinder  the  Empire. 
Names  of  Slaves.  —  Things  are  far  more  irregular,  however, 
since  the  Empire  has  brought  the  Roman  name  along  with 
the  Roman  citizenship  to  hordes  of  freedmen  and  foreigners. 
They  Latinize  their  alien  names,  or  they  take  an  altered  form 
of  their  ex-master's  names,  for  example,  Claudianus  Li- 
cinianus ;  or  often,  being  complete  upstarts,  swell  around  with 
absurdly  long  names  often  meaning  nothing  at  all.  This  is 
true  even  of  some  high  officers,  and  there  is  now  ruling  as 
proconsul  of  Africa  a  senator  calling  himself  pompously 
Titus  Csesarinus  Statius  Quintius  Statianus  Memmius 
Macrinus,  while  that  of  the  governor  of  North  Britain,  a 

1  And  hardly  anybody  outside  the  Claudian  gens  was  ever  named 

*  Literally  '*  Number  Ten  " ;  but  that  meaning  had  disappeared. 

188  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

certain  "  Pollio,"  has  nine  names  if  you  give  him  his  full 

As  for  slaves  they  were  ordinarily  called  in  simpler  days  of 
the  Republic  merely  "  Marcipor,"  or  "  Lucipor,"  etc.,  — 
"  Marcus's  boy,"  or  "  Lucius's  boy  " ;  but  such  descriptions 
in  the  days  of  the  great  familise  become  impossible.  Most 
house  slaves  are  either  named  for  Greek  deities  or  heroes, 
or  else  for  some  Oriental  potentate,  precisely  as  "  Caesar  " 
and  "  Pompey  "  will  figure  on  slave  plantations  of  another 
day.  "  Mithridates,"  "  Pharnaces,"  "Cyrus,"  and  the 
like  appear  in  every  atrium.  There  are  also  plenty  of  hand- 
some boys  answering  to  such  fine  names  as  "  Eros,"  "  Poly- 
dorus,"  "  Xenophon";  or  who  are  named  for  their  native 
country  as  "  Syrax  "  for  a  Syrian,  and  "  Cappadox  "  for  a 

163.  Names  of  Women.  Confusion  of  Roman  Names.  — 
When  a  girl  is  born  in  an  old  family  her  chance  of  a  dis- 
tinctive name  seems  even  less  than  that  of  her  brothers. 
There  are  really  no  recognized  prsenomens  for  girls,  and  until 
lately  there  have  been  hardly  any  regular  cognomens. 
Calvus's  daughter  should  have  been  merely  called  Junia  for 
her  gens :  "  The  Junian  Woman."  If  it  is  needful,  however, 
to  separate  her  from  her  cousins,  she  can  be  called  Junia 
Calm  —  "  Calvus's  Junia."  If  she  had  a  younger  sister,  she 
would  be  simply  "  Junia  Prima "  as  against  "  Junia  Sec- 
unda  "  —  Junia  No.  1  and  Junia  No.  2. 

This  kind  of  effacement  is,  however,  becoming  very  dis- 
pleasing to  high-spirited  Roman  women.  They  are  now 
asserting  their  personality  by  demanding  special  names. 
The  result  is  that  they  are  getting  a  kind  of  irregular  cog- 
nomens. Calvus's  daughter  is,  therefore,  known  as  Junia 
Gratia  (from  her  mother),  and  should  the  house  be  favored 

1  Very  many  such  lengthy  names  are  found  under  Hadrian. 

Children  and  Schooling  189 

with  another  young  mistress,  she  will  probably  be  Junia 
Ccdva  in  compliment  to  her  father's  cognomen. 

Nevertheless,  with  every  explanation,  the  names  alike  of 
men  and  women  at  Rome  are  utterly  confusing.  Duplication 
seems  incessant  and  anything  like  a  complete  directory  of 
the  city  would  apparently  carry  many  pages  of  identical 
entries.  Of  course,  a  ready  use  of  nicknames  (constantly 
invented  by  Italian  ingenuity)  overcomes  the  actual  dif- 
ficulty. Among  near  friends  or  dependents  it  is  quite  proper 
to  cry  "  Hail,  Spurius  ! "  or  "  Well  said,  Tiberius" ;  but  it  is 
an  impolite  familiarity  to  employ  the  prsenomen  except  for 
intimates.  Ordinarily  the  cognomen  is  the  proper  form,  used, 
be  it  said,  without  any  "  Sir  "  or  "  Mister/'  and  in  the  Senate 
the  archaic  usage  requires  that  the  Conscript  Fathers  should  be 
summoned  by  prsenomen  and  gentile  name  only.  "Die,  Marce 
Tulle,"  "  Speak,  Marcus  Tullius,"  was  the  form  by  which 
Cicero  was  often  called  before  he  began  his  great  orations. 

164.  Care  of  Parents  in  Educating  Children.  —  So  a 
Roman  child  receives  that  great  thing,  his  name.  What  is 
the  course  of  his  life  if  he  grows  to  manhood  ?  Very  much  the 
same  as  in  other  civilized  lands,  where  most  parents  are  lov- 
ing and  where  most  children  bring  joy  to  the  house.  Boys 
and  girls,  until  school  age,  are  largely  in  the  hands  of  the 
womenfolk.  Gratia's  old  nurse,  brought  with  her  to  Calvus's 
house,  is  still  more  of  a  beloved  mentor  and  tyrant  to  Gratia's 
children,  usually  bribing  her  Charges  to  be  good  "  with  honey, 
nuts  and  sweet-cakes."  But  as  soon  as  boys,  at  least,  begin 
to  pass  out  of  early  childhood  their  fathers  are  expected  to 
take  them  in  hand,  and  even  a  man  of  high  rank  is  criticized 
if  he  leaves  his  sons  too  much  to  the  guidance  of  paid  tutors 
and  of  slaves. 

This  paternal  discipline  may  be  harsh  but  it  is  seldom 
negligent.  Boys  are  taught  to  go  with  their  fathers  almost 
everywhere ;  to  watch  and  listen  in  silence,  but  to  ask  intel- 

190  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

ligent  questions  afterward.  Thus  young  Titus  is  already 
old  enough  to  accompany  his  father  Calvus  to  the  sessions 
of  the  Senate  itself.  On  a  seat  reserved  near  the  door  for 
senators'  sons  he  listens  through  many  a  solemn  debate. 
Presently  the  routine  of  business  is  so  familiar  to  him,  that  he 
presumptuously  thinks  he  can  correct  the  consul  on  certain 
points  of  order.  He  and  his  companions  of  like  rank  already 
are  playing  "  praetor's  court  "  —  with  one  of  them  on  the 
tribunal  and  the  others  (like  their  parents)  the  orators  in  the 
great  basilica.  As  the  good  old  customs  have  waned  this 
companionship  of  fathers  and  sons  has  perhaps  somewhat 
waned  also  —  but  it  still  remains  one  of  the  worthiest  features 
of  the  Roman  training. 

165.  Toys  and  Pets.  —  Roman  children  lack  nothing  in 
playthings.  All  but  the  elaborate  mechanical  toys  of  a  later 
age  are  at  their  disposal.  Little  children  have  their  rattles, 
balls,  and  carts.  Small  Junia  plays  with  very  life-like  dolls 
of  ivory,  wax,  and  painted  terra  cotta,  often  fashioned  by 
exceedingly  skilful  Greek  craftsmen.  She  and  her  brothers 
rejoice  in  swings  and  hobby  horses,  while  Titus  and  young 
Decimus  also  make  glad  in  a  finely  painted  "  century  "  of 
wooden  soldiers  and  in  tops,  hoops,  and  marbles  —  such  as 
are  transmitted  almost  unchanged  across  the  ages,  and 
they  receive  somewhat  suspiciously  (as  soon  as  they  are  of 
proper  age)  a  gift  of  a  carefully  carved  set  of  wooden  letters, 
a  sly  device  for  teaching  the  alphabet. 

Much  more  welcome  than  these  last  are,  of  course,  the  New 
Year  and  birthday  presents  of  tame  nightingales,  talking 
parrots,  and  caged  blackbirds,  of  dogs,  large  and  small,  of 
that  somewhat  rare  animal  from  Egypt  —  a  delightful  furry 
cat,  and  best  of  all  —  when  they  grow  a  little  older  —  being 
children  of  a  senator,  each  a  well-broken  pony  —  of  little  use 
in  Rome,  but  a  splendid  comrade  when  the  family  goes  to  its 

Children  and  Schooling  191 

As  they  get  older  still  a  decent  allowance  of  pocket  money 
is  added  and  an  earnest  attempt  is  made  to  teach  the  children 
financial  responsibility,  to  add  accounts,  to  save  their  ses- 
terces, and  not  to  run  up  bills.  It  is  not  ungenteel,  however, 
for  a  youth  of  family  to  be  an  easy  spender,  and  Pliny  the 
Younger  has  scolded  a  friend  as  outrageously  severe  for 
"  thrashing  his  son  because  he  was  too  lavish  in  buying 
horses  and  dogs." 

166.  The  Learning  of  Greek  by  Roman  Children.  —  Even 
before  formal  schooling  begins,  the  young  Calvi,  like  all  other 
Romans  of  the  better  class,  have  begun  an  important  part 
of  their  education  —  the  learning  of  Greek.  The  Athenian 
education  was  a  single-language  education  with  no  studies 
outside  those  of  the  mother  tongue.1  The  Roman  education 
is  a  bi-lingual  education. 

Without  Greek  everybody  confesses  that  a  full  half  (prob- 
ably more)  of  the  world's  entire  wit  and  wisdom  is  locked 
away.  Without  Greek  not  merely  must  a  man  refuse  to 
claim  the  least  real  culture;  he  is  handicapped  in  all  the 
professions  and  in  most  forms  of  business.  He  can  have  no 
commercial  dealings  with  the  Levant.  If  he  travels  anywhere 
East  of  the  Adriatic,  he  can  hardly  make  himself  understood 
outside  of  the  governors'  prsetoria  and  the  camps.  Even  into 
the  literary  "Latin  there  have  crept  an  enormous  number  of 
Greek  terms,  mostly  having  to  do  with  matters  of  learning  or 
luxury.  In  short  without  the  mastery  of  Greek  a  Roman 
of  any  ambitions  is  hopelessly  lost. 

A  scholar  need  not,  however,  bother  about  any  third 
language.  Practically  all  Levantines  can  jabber  some  Greek, 
even  though  their  accent  be  abominable,  and  their  native 
tongue  Syriac  or  Coptic.  As  for  Spaniards,  Gauls,  and 
Britons  doubtless  interpreters  are  needful  if  you  visit  their 

i  See  "A  Day  in  Old  Athens, "  p.  63. 

192  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

crude  villages,  but  all  their  upp^r  classes  are  now  busily 
learning  Latin  just  as  they  are  learning  the  joys  of  Roman 
baths,  circus  races,  and  cookery.  With  Latin  and  Greek  you 
are  ready  to  meet  the  world. 

Greek  is  taught  in  the  schools,  but  hardly  as  a  painfully 
acquired  foreign  language.  From  infancy  Titus,  Decimus, 
and  Junia  have  had  Greek-speaking  attendants,  and  their 
own  parents  (very  fair  Greek  scholars)  take  pains  to  talk  in 
good  Attic  part  of  the  time  while  they  play  with  them.  As 
the  children  grow  up  about  half  of  all  the  more  elegant  and 
refined  conversation  they  must  hear  will  be  in  Greek  —  and 
so  through  all  their  education.  The  result  will  be  that  Junia 
may  turn  out  to  be  a  learned  lady  like  the  poetess  Julia 
Balbilla,  the  Empress  Sabina's  friend,  who  has  written  some 
very  fine  Greek  elegiacs,1  "  worthy  of  Sappho,  "  say  her 
friends ;  or  Titus  if  he  dabbles  in  philosophy,  may  write  a 
long  treatise  in  good  Attic  prose  as  well  as  can  his  contem- 
porary the  destined  emperor,  Marcus  Aurelius. 

167.  Selection  of  a  School.  —  In  the  good  old  days  a 
father  was  expected  not  merely  to  give  his  son  moral  and 
practical  lessons,  but  actually  to  be  his  schoolmaster  —  to  flog 
reading,  writing,  and*  a  little  arithmetic  into  him ;  even  as 
Cato  the  Elder  (234-149  B.C.)  boasted  that  he  did  with  his 
own  son.  But  that  stage  has  long  passed,  and  the  main 
question  now  for  every  boy  or  girl  is,  "  tutors  or  school  ?  " 
No  doubt  families  of  the  highest  rank  find  private  tutors 
fashionable  and  convenient ;  thus  such  a  personage  as  Au- 
gustus employed  the  skilful  freedman,  Verrius  Flaccus,  to 
teach  his  grandsons;  but  the  advantages  of  contact  with 
other  children  of  about  the  same  social  class  are  clearly 
understood.  The  young  Calvi,  therefore,  have  been  sent  to 

1  These  verses  have  been  preserved  to  the  present  age  by  being  in- 
scribed upon  the  foot  of  the  colossal  statue  of  the  "Speaking  Memnon" 
in  Egypt,  during  the  visit  there  of  Hadrian  and  Sabina. 

Children  and  Schooling  193 

a  carefully  selected  school.  This  arrangement  is  exceptionally 
good  because  their  father's  colleague,  the  ex-prsetor  Aponius, 
owns  a  remarkably  gifted  slave,  one  Euganor,  who  is  allowed 
not  merely  to  teach  his  master's  children  but  (by  a  recog- 
nized custom)  to  take  in  others ;  their  fees  going  toward  his 
peculium  saved  up  to  buy  his  freedom. 

168.  Extent  of  Literacy  in  Rome.    Education  of  Girls.  — 
Schools  exist  everywhere  in  Rome,  and  there  are  all  sorts 
and  conditions  of  schools.    There  is  no  system  of  public  edu- 
cation, and   probably  a  good  many  poor  plebeians   and 
slaves  are  barely  literate  enough  to  spell  out  the  gladiator 
notices  and  to  jot  down  a  few  accounts  or  memoranda ;  but 
public  opinion  condemns  parents  who  deny  their  children 
at  least  a  little  schooling,  and  absolutely  illiterate  persons 
are  rare.1 

Girls  in  poor  families  are  rather  less  sure  of  instruction  than 
boys,  and  in  superior  families  they  seldom  pass  on  to  the  upper 
and  the  rhetoric  schools;  but  apparently  in  the  ordinary 
schools  they  frequently  go  with  their  brothers  on  terms  of 
perfect  equality.  There  seems  to  be  no  prudish  separation  of 
the  sexes,  although  when  the  grown  boys  go  off  to  learn  the 
tricks  of  orators  and  philosophers,  nobly-born  girls  spend  the 
years  just  before  their  marriages  under  good  tutors  learn- 
ing the  poets,  and  being  taught  a  graceful  proficiency  in  harp 
playing  and  also  enough  of  dancing  to  give  them  the  erect 
carriage  and  the  stately,  calm  movements  of  destined 

169.  Schools  for  the  Lower  Classes.  —  Between  the  select 
establishment  of  Euganor  in  a  side  apartment  of  Aponius's 
great  mansion  and  the  cheapest  type  of  school  along  Mer- 
cury Street   there  is  a   great  gulf  fixed.     Any  kind  of  a 

1  Of  course,  there  would  be  many  lower  class  Italians  who,  although 
fairly  at  ease  with  Latin,  would  be  entirely  unfamiliar  with  Greek. 


A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

shelter  will  do  for  a  low-grade  school,  and  any  kind  of  a 
half -educated  fellow  can  set  up  as  a  school  teacher. 

Take  for  example  poor  Platorius  who,  having  failed  as  an 
inn-keeper  at  Ostia,  is  trying  to  earn  a  living  by  leasing  a 
vacant  shop  near  the  Insula  Flavia.  The  shallow  room  opens 
directly  upon  the  noisy  street,  and  the  passing  throngs  divert 

the  children,  while  the 
clamors  of  the  children 
distress  all  the  semi- 
invalids  in  the  big  in- 
sula.  Every  thrashing 
by  the  master  attracts  a 
knot  of  brutal  idlers  just 
outside.  Platorius's 
school  is  of  the  lowest 
grade,  but  he  has-  to 
make  a  certain  pretence 
of  learning  by  setting  up 
a  few  chipped  busts  of 
BOY  STUDYING.  Homer,  Virgil,  Horace, 

etc.,  and  erecting  a  high 

seat  (cathedra)  for  himself.  His  class  sits  before  him  on  long 
backless  benches.  There  are  no  desks,  and  every  child 
holds  his  smudgy  wax-covered  tablets  uncomfortably  upon 
his  knee,  as  he  copies  or  erases  with  his  stylus.1 

To  all  the  better  schools  the  children  come  each  accom- 
panied by  his  or  her  "  pedagogue,"  much  after  the  Greek 
manner;  a  private  slave  being  especially  assigned  to  each 
boy  or  girl,  and  obligated  to  lead  his  charge  to  and  from 
school,  help  with  the  lessons,  guard  the  child's  morals,  and 
even  assist  in  chastising.2  But  few  of  Platorius's  pupils  come 

1  The  writing  end  of  the  stylus  (bone  or  metal)  was  sharp.     The  oppo- 
site end  was  blunt  and  flattened  for  erasing  on  the  soft  wax. 
*  See  "A  Day  in  Old  Athens,"  p.  64. 

Children  and  Schooling  195 

from  parents  who  can  afford  the  luxury  of  a  pedagogue  for 
their  children.  They  appear  by  themselves  so  early  in  the 
morning  in  winter  time  that  they  have  to  bear  smoky  lan- 
terns ;  the  most  self-sufficient  of  them  being  "  the  sons  of 
centurions,  with  satchels  and  tablets  hung  on  their  left  arms, 
and  carrying  every  Ides  (middle  of  the  month)  their  fee  of 
eight  brass  pieces  each."  [Horace.]  Each  boy  has  devoured 
a  crust  before  leaving  home  and  the  school  continues  without 
recess  until  noon  when  there  is  an  intermission  of  fair  length 
to  get  the  prandium  or  at  least  to  buy  some  sausages  from  the 
street  dealers,  and  perhaps  to  indulge  in  a  short  siesta.  After 
that  the  deafening  study  is  resumed,  and  there  is  relief  in  the 
neighboring  tenements  only  when  the  school  is  dismissed 
towards  dusk. 

170.  Scourging,  Clamors,  and  Other  Abuses  of  Cheap 
Schools.  —  A  school  is  no  asset  to  the  neighborhood.  Vainly 
do  the  satiric  poets  implore  a  teacher  to  "  be  kind  to  his 
scholars  "  and  to  "  lay  aside  his  Scythian  scourge  with  its 
horrible  thongs  "  and  his  "  terrible  cane,  the  schoolmaster's 
scepter."  Poor  Platorius  knows  well  enough  that  the  type  of 
parents  who  employ  him  believes  the  old  maxim  "  he  who  is 
not  flogged  is  not  educated."  The  Romans  are  a  military 
people  and  the  ideal  of  a  school  is  always  somewhat  the 
stern  discipline  of  the  centurion  with  his  vine-stock  (see 
p.  323).  Precepts  in  many  a  classroom  are  enforced  with 
curses  and  blows,  and  Seneca  has  declared  in  disgust  that  it  is 
a  common  thing  "  to  find  a  man  in  a  violent  passion  teaching 
you  that  to  be  in  a  passion  is  wrong." 

The  children,  too,  are  often  permitted  to  study  their 
lessons  aloud  even  as  in  the  schools  of  the  Orient.  All  this 
adds  to  the  buzzing  confusion,  so  that  it  is  claimed  that  a 
school  causes  more  noise  than  a  blacksmith  at  his  anvil  or 
the  amphitheater  applauding  a  favorite  gladiator. 

The  teaching  and  the  flogging  keep  up  through  a  long 


A  Day  in  Old  Rome 


season.  The  school  year  begins  on  March  24th,  when 
Platorius  painfully  counts  the  entrance  fees  brought  by  each 
scholar,  reckoning  himself  lucky  if  he  does  not  have  to  split  his 
gains  with  the  pedagogues  who  attend  a  favored  few  of  the 

^  children.  There  is  a 
considerable  holiday  in 
summer  when  it  is  too 
hot  to  study,  and  chil- 
dren of  good  family 
are  likely  to  be  attend- 
ing their  parents  in 
the  country.  There 
is  another  interval  of 
about  a  week  at  the 
Saturnalia  and  over 
New  Year's  Day ;  another  just  before  the  new  school  year 
begins  in  March.  Otherwise,  except  for  the  more  important 
religious  festivals,  and  the  "  Nones  "  (5th  or  7th  days  of 
each  month),  the  studying  and  the  beating  go  on,  with  rather 
fewer  holidays  than  in  the  twentieth  century. 

Platorius  is  near  the  bottom  of  the  educational  ladder.  His 
fees  are  only  about  four  sesterces  (16  cents)  per  month  per 
pupO,  and  he  is  none  too  sure  of  prompt  payment.  The 
miserable  room  costs  something  for  rental.  If  his  pupils 
fail  to  progress,  their  parents  storm  at  him  and  promptly 
shift  to  another  master.  In  short  he  leads  a  dog's  life.  The 
green  grocer  and  the  copperpot  monger  .who  have  stalls 
opposite  the  school  despise  him  as  entirely  beneath  them. 

171.  A  Superior  Type  of  School.  —  Quite  different  is  the 
atmosphere  of  Euganor's  schoolroom.  He  is  technically  a 
slave,  but  a  slave  of  very  superior  class.  The  children  come 
to  him  accompanied  not  merely  by  extremely  genteel  peda- 
gogues but  by  subordinate  slaves,  capsarii,  who  carry  their 
books  and  tablets,  and  the  establishment  has  a  convenient 

Children  and  Schooling  197 

ante-room,  where  all  these  gentry  can  foregather  and  match 
gossip,  "  My  master  says  "  —  while  their  charges  are  being 

The  school  itself  is  held  in  an  elegant  chamber  adorned 
with  fine  frescos  of  historical  events  such  as  the  campaigns 
of  Alexander,  speaking  statues  of  great  literary  figures,  and, 
conspicuous  upon  the  wall,  an  elaborately  painted  map  of 
the  Roman  Empire,  "  for/'  affirms  Euganor,  "  the  boys 
should  have  daily  before  their  eyes  all  the  seas  and  lands,  and 
all  cities  and  peoples  comprehended  therein;  for  the  name 
and  position  of  places,  the  distance  between  them,  the  source 
and  outflow  of  rivers,  the  coastline  with  all  its  seaboard,  its 
gulfs  and  its  straits  are  better  taken  in  by  the  eye  than  by 
the  ear."  1  Euganor,  too,  has  his  rod  and  does  not  bear  it  in 
vain,  but  he  never  allows  his  discipline  to  degenerate  into 
stupid  cruelty.  He  is,  in  short,  an  extremely  competent  man 
who  studies  each  of  his  charges  carefully  and  who  would  prove 
an  excellent  teacher  in  any  schoolroom  in  any  age. 

172.  Methods  of  Teaching.  —  All  Roman  schools  are  small. 
The  idea  of  vast  "  graded  "  establishments  where  year  after 
year  pupils  are  passed  from  teacher  to  teacher  and  at  last 
"  graduated  "  has  occurred  to  no  man.  Platorius  conducts 
his  school  entirely  alone.  Euganor  has  a  couple  of  efficient 
monitors,  but  neither  he  nor  Platorius  tries  to  handle  more 
than  say  thirty  pupils.  Many  of  Euganor's  pupils  came  to 
him  while  little  more  than  babies  and  will  only  leave  him 
when  actually  ready  for  the  rhetoric  schools.  He  is  largely 
responsible  for  their  entire  elementary  education,  although 
many  of  the  higher  class  children  know  the  Latin  and  Greek 
alphabet  and  can  spell  a  little  before  being  put  under  his 

1  These  are  the  words  of  Eumenius,  a  teacher  of  about  300  A.D.,  but 
they  would  have  been  equally  proper  in  the  age  of  Hadrian. 

198  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

This  is  no  place  for  a  real  discussion  of  the  actual  forms  of 
education.  First  there  comes  the  mere  teaching  of  reading, 
writing,  and  simple  arithmetic,  with  very  little  use  of  books, 
the  master  dictating  sentences  and  correcting  the  tablets 
whereon  the  children  write  them  down.  Such  a  teacher  as 
Platorius  may  have  a  few  musty  rolls  of  papyrus  which  his 
charges  are  allowed  to  handle  gingerly,  but  "  First  Readers  " 
as  understood  in  later  schools  are  unknown.  Euganor  is 
better  off,  and  a  considerable  library  is  at  his  disposal,  al- 
though barring  a  few  books  of  fables  it  contains  little  that  is 
directly  appealing  to  children. 

In  the  poorer  schools  the  average  master  congratulates 
himself  if  his  charges  stay  long  enough  to  become  fairly 
literate,  but  the  better  establishments,  of  course,  accomplish 
far  more.  When  a  child  can  once  read  with  tolerable  fluency, 
and  can  write  the  characters  on  his  wax  tablets  without 
wandering  from  the  traced  lines  or  needing  too  many  cor- 
rections, he  begins  to  have  the  great  poets,  especially  Virgil 
and  Horace  in  Latin  and  Homer  in  Greek,  pounded  into  him. 
He  is  compelled  to  learn  very  long  passages  of  such  authors 
by  heart,1  and  as  an  especially  desirable  exercise  he  is  forced 
to  translate  both  from  Greek  into  Latin  and  also  from  Latin 
into  Greek. 

Since  many  of  Euganor's  pupils  will  presumably  become 
orators,  they  are  furthermore  aided  to  improve  their  diction 
also  in  every  possible  manner,  to  acquire  a  good  stock  of  meta- 
phors, and  to  have  on  hand  a  great  supply  of  apt,  pungent 
quotations.  All  the  possible  meanings  in  the  literary  texts  are 
explained,  likewise  the  mythological,  historical,  and  geographi- 
cal allusions,  etc.  The  study  of  literature  thus  becomes 
what  is  really  a  form  of  a  "  General  Information"  course. 

1  Persons  who  could  recite  the  whole  of  the  Iliad  and  Odyssey  from 
memory  were  not  unknown,  although  they  were  usually  learned  slaves, 
not  Romans  of  the  higher  class. 

Children  and  Schooling  199 

173.  Training  in  Higher  Arithmetic.  —  Before  the  children 
leave  Euganor  they  are  also  taught  the  higher  forms  of 
arithmetic.    Prior  to  the  coining  of  Arabic  numerals  this  is 
pretty  serious  business,  yet  every  Roman  of  property  must 
be  able  to  keep  elaborate  accounts,  and  not  be  too  dependent 
upon  his  stewards.    Indeed,  in  some  superior  schools  a  special 
arithmetic  teacher  is  called  in ;  a  calculator,  who  is  entitled  to 
demand  extra  large  fees,  although  one  suspects  that  most  of 
his  pupils  are  equites'  sons  who  will  probably  engage  in 
commerce.    One  thing,  however,  Euganor  does  not  have  to 
bother  about  —  physical  culture.    The  Greeks  can  send 
their  sons  to  the  palcBstra  and  to  the  harpist  to  learn  gym- 
nastics and  music.    The  Romans  try  merely  to  see  that  their 
boys  get  exercise  enough  to  keep  them  in  good  health,  but 
they  cannot  grasp  the  practical  value  of  a  training  that 
neither  makes  the  lads  better  soldiers  nor  better  men  of 
business.    Many  Romans,  of  course,  learn  also  about  the  fine 
arts,  but  never  in  the  regular  classroom. 

174.  The  Grammarians'  High  Schools.  —  By  then*  early 
teens,  however,  even  Euganor's  pupils  begin  to  forsake  him. 
They  are  passed  on  to  a  higher  teacher,  a  regular  "  gram- 
marian "  (grammaticus) ,  who  assumes  that  his  charges  are  well 
grounded  in  the  fundamentals,  and  who  endeavors  to  instruct 
them  in  the  real  niceties  of   Greek  and  Latin  literature. 
Sometimes  also  there  is  a  specialist  in  each  of  the  languages. 

In  these  high  schools  great  stress  is  laid  on  proper  pro- 
nunciation and  elocution.  Euclid's  theorems  in  geometry 
are  studied,  and  a  good  deal  of  history  is  fluently  if  not  very 
critically  taught.  Much  of  the  learning  is  superficial,  for  it 
is  a  fine  thing  in  many  circles  to  affect  to  be  erudite,1  and  more 

1 A  tombstone  for  a  boy  who  died  at  the  age  of  ten  boasts  that  its 
subject  "knew  the  dogmas  of  Pythagoras  and  the  teaching  of  the  books 
of  the  learned.'1  He  was  also  alleged  to  have  read  all  of  Homer  and  to 
have  studied  Euclid  "tablets  in  hand." 


A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

stress  is  sometimes  laid  on  absurd  problems  of  mythology 
than  upon  learning  sober  facts.  Grammarians  who  teach 
the  sons  of  the  parvenu  rich  are  liable,  indeed,  to  be  scolded 
if  they  cannot  themselves  explain  instantly  "  Who  was 
Ajichises's  nurse?"  But  the  better  grammarians'  schools 

GRAMMARIAN  INSTRUCTING  Two  UPPER  PUPILS  :  an  attendant  (capsarius) 
standing  at  one  side* 

turn  out  pupils  who  are  not  perhaps  men  of  deep  learning  but 
who  have  a  great  fund  of  information,  who  can  write  a  clear 
accurate  Latin  (and  often  a  Greek)  style,  and  generally 
carry  themselves  as  cultivated  young  gentlemen.  Those, 
however,  who  aspire  to  pass  as  highly  educated  will  in- 
evitably go  on  to  the  still  higher  school  of  the  rhetor. 

175.  Oratory  Very  Fashionable.  —  Oratory  seems  the 
keystone  to  success.  True,  the  fall  of  the  Republic  makes 
it  impossible  to  harangue  the  assembled  Comitia  in  behalf  of 
favorite  candidates  or  proposed  laws.  Even  in  the  Senate 
there  are  now  grave  limitations  upon  free  eloquence.  Never- 
theless, the  desirability  of  "  fame  "  as  an  orator  seems  in- 
calculable. To  win  your  cause  in  the  courts;  to  make  a 

Children  and  Schooling  201 

crowded  hall  resound  with  applause  at  your  set  orations 
seems  the  height  of  peaceful  triumph.  Never  will  another 
age  set  more  store  on  high-soaring  formal  talk  than  this  age 
of  the  Roman  Empire.  The  actual  performances  of  pro- 
fessional orators  and  "  readers  "  we  can  glance  at  later,  and, 
of  course,  space  lacks  for  any  presentation  of  the  "  Science  of 
Eloquence  " ;  but  mention  must  be  made  of  the  rhetoric 
schools  in  which  by  ardent  anticipation  young  Titus  and 
Decimus  Calvus  are  already  winning  laurels. 

176.  Professional  Rhetoricians.  —  No  slave  or  ordinary 
grammarian  can  hope  to  conduct  a  rhetoric  school.    The 
masters  are  either  Romans  of  such  rank  that  they  can  mingle 
with  senators,  or  are  distinguished  Greeks  fresh  from  the 
schools   of   Rhodes  or   Athens.1    Not  many   years   ago  in 
Trajan's  reign,  a  certain  Isaeus  came  to  Rome  from  Greece. 
He  dazzled  the  noblest  circles  by  his  proficiency ;  his  diction 
was  the  purest  Attic ;  his  sentences  sparkled  with  epigrams. 
He  called  on  his  audience  to  name  any  mooted  subjects  it 
liked  for  discussion  and  to  state  on  which  side  it  wanted  him  to 
argue.     Instantly  he  would  rise,  wrap  his  gown  around  him 
and  "  without  losing  a  moment,  begin,  with  everything  at 
his  finger  tips  no  matter  what  subject  was  selected."    Pre- 
sumably his  thoughts  and  the  information  behind  them  were 
very  superficial ;  no  matter,  the  flow  of  his  logic,  learning,  and 
language  set  his  audience  into  ecstasies.     Calvus  only  hopes 
he  can  find  an  equally  distinguished  master  for  his  own  sons. 

177.  Methods   in   Rhetoric    Schools:     Mock   Trials. — 
Rhetoric  schools  are  arranged  rather  as  halls  of  audience 

1  Senators,  degraded  and  banished  for  reasons  good  or  bad,  could  earn 
a  living  in  the  provinces  by  opening  rhetoric  schools.  Thus  Lucinianus 
did  so  in  Sicily  in  Trajan's  time.  Pliny  the  Younger  records  that  he 
began  his  first  set  oration  by  declaring:  "O  Fortune,  what  sport  you 
make  to  amuse  yourself !  You  make  professors  into  senators,  and  sena- 
tors into  professors.** 

202  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

than  as  ordinary  classrooms.  The  students  are  expected  to 
sit  in  a  proper  manner,  "  to  look  steadily  at  the  speaker,  not 
let  their  minds  wander  or  to  whisper  to  their  neighbors, 
yawn  sleepily,  smile,  scowl,  cross  their  legs,  or  let  their  heads 
drop/'  The  training  in  its  earlier  stages,  however,  seems 
decidedly  academic.  Great  models  in  Greek  and  Latin 
oratory  are  examined  and  discussed.  Then  the  young 
advocates-to-be  are  put  to  work  preparing  their  own  ora- 
tions. They  are  not,  however,  allowed  to  take  any  live 
and  fresh  topic.  Instead  they  must  seek  one  in  distant 

Every  day  the  streets  of  Rome  resound  with  noise  from  the 
rhetoric  schools  —  some  youth  is  laboriously  inciting  the 
Athenian  patriots,  Harmodius  and  Aristogeiton,  to  screw 
up  their  courage  and  to  free  their  country  by  slaying  the 
foul  Hipparchus.  Still  more  threadbare  are  the  ceaseless 
orations  urging  Hannibal  to  advance  (or  not  to  advance)  on 
Rome  after  his  victory  at  Cannse.  There  are  a  number  of 
stock  subjects  of  a  more  private  kind.  Mimic  prosecutors 
work  themselves  into  a  passion  against  "  The  Ravisher," 
"  The  Poisoner,"  or  "  The  Wicked  and  Thankless  Husband." 

Often  a  couple  of  pupils  a  little  more  advanced  can  be  pit- 
ted against  one  another  in  an  imaginary  law-suit.  Suppose  a 
father  orders  a  son  to  kill  the  youth's  brother,  whom  the 
father  suspects  of  intending  to  turn  parricide.  The  boy 
pretends  to  have  obeyed  the  order,  but  the  second  lad  really 
escapes.  The  father  at  length  discovers  the  facts  and  prose- 
cutes his  first  son  for  "  The  Crime  of  Disobedience,"  1  — 
what  endless  opportunities  now  for  "  eloquence "  either 
proving  that  a  parent  must  be  obeyed  at  any  cost,  or  that  no 
one  can  be  compelled  to  commit  fratricide  I 

1  An  actual  case  for  young  orators  as  explained  by  the  Elder  Seneca, 
Less  advanced  pupils  could  be  pitted  in  arguments  as  to  **  Whether  coun- 
try life  is  better  than  city  life,"  or  "married  life  better  than  celibacy/* 

Children  and  Schooling  203 

Again  it  is  supposed  that  a  young  girl  has  been  kidnapped, 
but  rescued  and  her  ravisher  later  arrested.  Imagine  now 
that  the  law  gives  her  the  choice  —  either  the  kidnapper  must 
marry  her  and  give  her  the  status  of  an  honorable  wife  or  she 
can  require  that  he  be  put  to  death.  The  rhetor  will  put  two 
of  his  best  pupils  to  prepare  counter  exhortations  to  the 
perplexed  girl:  "Marry  the  fellow  to  assure  your  social 
future !  "  or  "  Let  justice  be  done  —  summon  the  execu- 
tioner !  "  It  is  all  very  ingenious,  but  equally  unreal,  and  it 
is  often  hopelessly  artificial.  Angrily  wrote  Seneca  of  such 
debates  that  by  them  "  we  are  learning  not  for  life  but  for 

178.  Enormous  Popularity  of  Rhetoric  Studies.  —  How- 
ever impractical  this  study,  the  upper  classes  at  Rome 
assuredly  dote  upon  it.  When  each  youth  in  turn  mounts 
the  orator's  stand  in  the  school  and  begins  his  suasoria  (set 
oration)  or  his  contraversoria  (pretended  legal  argument) 
all  his  fellows  are  duty  bound  to  cry  in  Greek,  "  Euge  !  "  or 
"Sophos!"  at  every  booming  sentiment  or  well-rounded 
climax.  At  least  once  during  the  oration  it  is  good  form 
for  them  to  rise  from  their  seats  and  join  in  a  salvo  of  ap- 
plause—  they  will  all  get  like  courtesies  when  their  own 
turns  come. 

When  the  young  declaimer  has  finished  the  master  will 
arise.  He  will  show  how  to  gesture,  making  his  garments 
fall  in  picturesque  folds.  He  will  take  the  subject  just 
handled  and  repeat  the  argument  showing  how  each  point 
can  be  better  developed ;  how  new  matter  can  be  brought 
in;  how  allusions  to  the  gods,  the  worthies  of  old,  and 
perhaps  to  the  reigning  Emperor  will  improve  the  effect; 
how  to  use  one's  voice  at  each  particular  turn,  etc.,  etc.  If 
the  only  object  of  oratory  is  to  tickle  the  ear,  the  result  is 
magnificent.  The  students  dutifully  applaud  their  master 
even  more  loudly  than  they  do  their  fellows,  and  each  goes 

204  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

home  wondering  anxiously,  "When  can  I  argue  my  first 
case  before  the  prsetor?  " 

179.  Philosophical   Studies :    Delight   in   Moralizing.  — 
A  good  many  Roman  nobles  of  intellectual  type  advance  a  step 
further  than  the  rhetoric  schools.     They  study  philosophy ; 
and  even  go  to  Athens  (now  a  quiet,  delightful  university 
town)   to   listen   to   lectures   by  the   alleged  successors  of 
Epicurus  or  of  Zeno  the  Stoic,  but  to  Greece  one  need  not 
follow  them.    It  is  proper  to  say,  however,  that  a  certain 
dabbling  in  philosophy  is  extremely  fashionable.1    There 
are  plenty  of  stories  about  noblemen  who  have  treatises  on 
philosophy  read  to  them  while  they  are  being  carried  to  and 
fro  in  their  litters  under  the  porticoes  of  their  villas ;  or  even 
of  ladies  who  listen  to  lectures  by  a  professional  philosopher 
every  morning  while  their  maids  are  arranging  their  hair. 

Such  personages,  needless  to  say,  never  improve  upon  the 
familiar  guesses  at  the  riddle  of  human  existence ;  but  some- 
times then-  desire  to  moralize  becomes  worse  than  comical. 
People  still  repeat  stories  of  Agrippinus,  a  high-born  victim  of 
Nero.  When  he  caught  a  fever  he  immediately  dicta/ted  a 
panygyric  on  the  moral  excellencies  of  fever.  He  was  ordered 
into  exile ;  he  wrote  a  treatise  on  the  benefits  of  exile.  He 
was  made  a  high  judge ;  he  added  to  the  anguish  of  those  he 
condemned  by  giving  his  victims  long  orations  to  prove  that 
he  passed  sentence  on  them  only  for  their  own  good ! 

180.  Children's  Games.    "  Morra  "  and  Dice.  —  It  is  a 
long  cry  from  child-rearing  to  philosophy.     One  must  return 

1  The  zeal  for  philosophy  and  rhetoric,  or  at  least  for  the  patronage 
thereof,  is  shown  by  the  story  of  how  Trajan,  a  very  simple-minded 
soldier,  used  to  invite  the  great  rhetorician  Dion  Chrysostom  to  visit 
him  and  take  long  journeys  with  him.  The  Emperor,  greatly  impressed 
by  the  other's  learning,  openly  declared  to  him,  "I  don't  in  the  least 
understand  what  you  keep  talking  about,  but  for  all  that  I  love  you  like 
my  own  soul ! " 

Children  and  Schooling  205 

to  the  first  topic  enough  to  notice  the  games  played  by  young 
Romans  and  also  by  their  elders.  Tag-games,  blindman's 
buff  and  its  refinements,  and  like  sports,  can  be  seen  in  every 
street  and  dusty  area  in  Rome.  A  favorite  game  is  that  of 
"King";  when  a  group  of  children  elects  a  Rex  who 
commands  them  to  perform  all  sorts  of  fooleries.  Time  fails 
to  tell  of  all  the  contests  with  tossing  knuckle  bones  and  at 
"  odd  and  even,"  guessing  at  concealed  pebbles,  shells,  and 
nuts.  The  later-day  Italian  game  of  "  morra "  (rrncare 
digitis)  in  which  both  players  hold  out  a  hand  with  a  certain 
number  of  fingers  extended,  and  then  each  one  tries  to 
shout  out  the  correct  number  of  his  rival's  fingers  before  the 
other  can  do  the  like  by  his,  is  an  highly  popular  if  noisy 
method  of  killing  time.  At  the  eating  houses  and  taverns  it 
is  regularly  used  among  friends  to  settle  who  shall  pay  the 

All  too  early  boys,  and  likewise  girls,  learn  also  to  rattle 
the  dice  box.  Some  of  the  dice  are  ordinary  six-sided  cubes, 
some  are  oblong,  with  the  numbers  "  2  "  and  "  5  "  omitted 
from  the  narrow  ends.  Almost  always  three  dice  of  bone  or 
fine  wood  are  used ;  and  the  familiar  expression  ct  three  sixes 
or  three  aces  "  is  the  same  as  saying  "  all  or  nothing/* 

181.  Board  Games  of  Skill :  "  Robbers  "  (Latrunculi).  — 
Altogether  too  much  time  and  money  are  wasted  at  dice  even 
by  fairly  grave  people,  while  professional  gamblers  abound ; 
but  the  Romans  have  two  games  in  which  men  are  moved  on  a 
gaming  board  according  to  rules  involving  very  high  degrees 
of  skill.  You  can  play  Duodecim  Scripta  very  much  like 
later-day  backgammon ;  fifteen  white  men  and  fifteen  black 
men  are  shifted  about  on  a  board  marked  with  twelve  double 
lines  (whence  the  name)  according  to  the  casts  of  the  dice. 
More  abstract  and  learned  is  LatruncvJi  ("  Robbers  "),  a 
game  without  dice  and  seemingly  very  much  like  later-day 
checkers  or  chess.  Some  of  the  pieces  are  called  "  soldiers  " 

206  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

and  others  "  officers  "  — and  the  moves  are  very  elaborate.1 
Of  course,  such  games  are  far  removed  from  a  mere  youthful 
sport.  Consuls  and  Emperors  delight  in  them,  and  while 
playing  forget  everything  but  the  problem  involved.  Dev- 
otees cite  with  pride  the  story  of  Julius  Kanus,  one  of  the 
mad  Caligula's  victims.  He  was  in  prison  but  was  allowed 
to  have  a  friend  visit  him,  and  the  two  were  busy  over 
"  Robbers/7  when  a  centurion  came  in  to  say  he  must  be 
immediately  executed.  Kanus  at  once  arose  unmoved,  but 
carefully  counted  the  men  on  the  board;  then  said  to  his 
friend,  "  Mind  you,  don't  tell  a  lie  after  I'm  dead,  and  say 
that  you  won  " ;  then  turning  to  the  centurion,  "  Please  bear 
witness  for  me  that  I  was  one  man  ahead,"  —  and  so  did 
Stoicism  find  its  way  even  to  the  gaming  table ! 

182.  Out-Door  Games.  Ball  Games,  Trignon.  —  Among 
out-of-door  amusements,  we  find  that  young  Romans  and 
some  of  their  elders  enjoy  fairly  elaborate  games  of  ball. 
There  are  various  exercises  which  show  that  the  world  is  on 
its  way  to  handball,  tennis,  and  even  to  polo,  but  hardly  any 
contests  foreshadow  such  things  as  baseball,  foot  ball,  or 
cricket.  The  most  common  game  is  trignon,  when  three 
players  stand  at  the  corners  of  a  triangle,  and  at  least  three, 
or  even  six  balls,  are  kept  flying  around  the  circle  with  great 
rapidity ;  the  points  being  made  on  catching  and  throwing 
with  as  few  misses  as  possible.  The  players  stand  close 
together,  and  the  whole  sport  is  more  a  mild  form  of  juggling 
than  it  is  any  real  field  exercise. 

i  It  is  impossible  to  recover  the  exact  details  of  these  two  games.  We 
know  of  "solitaire"  form  of  these  games,  with  the  board  made  of  tere- 
binth wood,  and  with  crystal  pieces,  or  with  gold  and  silver  coins  in  place 
of  the  common  black  and  white  counters. 



*183.  Letters  and  Writing  Tablets.  —  The  multiplication 
of  schools  presupposes  the  constant  use  of  books,  corre- 
spondence, and  other  forms  of  writing. 
What  are  these  like  ? 

"  Tablets  "  are  seen  everywhere. 
Upper-class  people  delight  in  scribbling 
down  memoranda.  The  story  even  runs 
that  Augustus  wrote  out  his  intended 
conversations  with  his  wife  Li  via  "  lest 
he  should  say  too  much  or  too  little," 
a  testimony  at  once  to  the  need  of  cir- 
cumspect dealings  with  the  lady  and  to 
a  great  mania  for  writing.  Ordinary 
tablets  are  made  of  two  or  three  thin 
strips  of  wood  joined  together  like 
later-day  book-covers,  and  spread  over  the  inside  with  a 
thin  coating  of  wax.  On  this  wax,  often  black  and  dingy, 
day  accounts  and  business  messages  can  be  scratched  with 
facility.  But  really  important  fashionable  letters  demand 
something  better.  The  leaves  can  be  made  of  fine  citrus  wood 
or  even  of  ivory.  As  for  very  special  correspondence,  love 
letters,  and  the  like,  these  are  written  on  very  small  tablets  in 
contrast  to  the  broad  slabs  carrying  the  merchant  accounts. 
If  you  want  a  handsome  note  book,  you  can  buy  one  with  a 
number  of  folding  leaves  and  with  outside  covers  of  finely 
chased  ivory,  silver,  or  gold,  and  such  handsome  note  books 
make  very  convenient  presents  among  friends.  By  a  con- 




A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

vention  attached  to  the  high  office,  when  Calvus  became 
praetor,  he  presented  his  intimates  with  tablets  adorned  with 
his  own  portrait  in  low  relief  on  ivory,  and  with  scenes  of 
the  praetor's  tribunal.  If  he  had  been  consul,  he  would 
have  been  expected  to  give  around  bunches  of  tablets  even 
more  elegant. 

When  a  letter  is  written  no  envelope  is  needed.  The 
tablets  are  folded  over  upon  themselves,  fastened  with 
crossed  thread  and  then  at  the  point  when  the  ends  are 

knotted  is  placed  a 
round  piece  of  wax, 
stamped  before  it  can 
cool  with  a  signet  ring. 
The  name  of  the  person 
to  whom  the  letter  is 
going  can  be  written  on 
the  outside,  and  then 
the  communication  is 
ready.  Letters  can  be 
transmitted  to  distant 
places  usually  only  with 
tedious  difficulty,  but  around  Rome  delivery  from  writers  of 
any  high  position  is  extremely  prompt.  The  carrying  of 
letters  is  one  of  the  commonest  duties  for  otherwise  idle 
slaves,  and  from  a  mansion  like  Calvus's  it  is  easy  every 
morning  to  send  off  ten  packets  each  by  its  own-  hurrying 

184.  Personal  Correspondence  and  Secretaries.  —  Calvus, 
like  every  man  of  distinction,  has  a  heavy  correspondence. 
It  is  a  fine  thing  to  be  a  good  letter  writer,  to  make  your 
epistles  seem  easy,  natural,  gossipy,  and  yet  in  such  faultless 
language  that  they  can  be  collected  presently  and  published 
in  a  book.  To  a  few  special  correspondents,  especially  to 
absent  relatives,  Calvus  writes  almost  daily  in  his  own  hand. 


Books  and  Libraries  £09 

But  he  dictates  even  more  frequently.  He  has  a  couple  of 
slave  amanuenses  who  are  with  him  constantly ;  they  can 
take  down  his  dictation  in  a  kind  of  abbreviated  long 
hand ;  then  write  it  out  in  handsome  script,  always  sub- 
mitting the  final  text  to  their  master  not  for  his  signing  but 
for  sealing.  As  a  consequence  of  all  this  correspondence,  the 
demand  for  new  tablets  in  Rome  is  prodigious.  The  wax, 
indeed,  can  be  melted  upon  letters  which  one  does  not  care  to 
preserve,  and  the  wood  used  a  second  time,  but  the  waste  in- 
evitably is  great. 

185.  Books  Very  Common:  Papyrus  and  the  Papyrus 
Trade.  —  Nevertheless,  the  activity  of  such  secretaries  is 
vastly  less  important  than  that  of  another  set 
of  scribes,  the  makers  of  books.  Poor  is  the 
tenement  suite  that  does  not  contain  a  few 
musty  papyrus  scrolls,  while  a  parvenu  freed- 
man  will  inevitably  acquire  a  large  library 
(which  he  may  never  read)  just  to  show  him- 
self a  man  of  fashion.  Books  are  so  common 
that  their  divided  sheets  are  wetted,  and  used 
in  kitchens  to  keep  fish  in  fresh  condition,  or,  if  BOOK  CUP- 
dry,  to  make  wrappers  for  incense  and  spices. 

Paper  is  unknown,  and  parchment  although  not  unknown 
is  used  mainly  for  very  important  correspondence,  public 
documents,  and  the  like,  which  require  extremely  durable 
material.  Practically  all  books  are  written  on  papyrus  ar- 
ranged in  rolls.1  The  papyrus  is  strictly  an  Egyptian 
monopoly,  and  if  the  importation  of  this  precious  article 
should  cease,  apparently  all  Greece  and  Italy  would  be 
doomed  to  partial  illiteracy. 

The  papyrus  plant  grows  in  the  swamps  by  the  Nile  to  a 
height  of  about  ten  feet.  The  pith  of  its  tall  stalks  is  first  cut 

1  In  very  early  Roman  days  public  records  seem  to  have  been  kept 
on  books  of  linen;  but  these  soon  disappeared, 


A  Day  in  Old  Rome 


into  strips ;  next  the  latter  are  placed  one  by  another  upon  a 
wetted  board  and  smeared  over  with  a  paste.  On  these  there 
is  next  laid  a  second  layer  forming  a  cross  pattern  or  kind  of 
net  work.  Then  the  whole  combination  is  pressed  and  beaten 
down  into  a  solid  sheet  and  smoothed 
with  an  ivory  knife  or  a  shell.  After 
that  it  is  ready  for  export  from  Egypt 
and  to  be  put  to  proper  use. 

The  papyrus  trade  is  well  standard- 
ized. There  are  eight  well-recognized 
grades  of  the  commodity.  The  best  is 
hieratica,  so  called  because  it  is  fine  and 
firm  enough  to  be  used  by  the  Egyptian 
priests  for  their  sacred  books.  The  cheapest  is  emporetica, 
not  fit  for  writing  but  only  for  wrapping  parcels.  The  inter- 
mediate qualities  answer  for  the  run  of  books.  When  the 
papyrus  sheets  are  ready  separately,  either  they  can  be  pasted 
together  at  once  into  a  long  scroll  making  a  complete  volume, 
or  first  the  book  can  be  written  off  and  the  sheets  pasted  later. 

186.  Size  and  Format  of  Books.  — 
Books  can,  therefore,  be  of  all  sizes  but 
everybody  usually  agrees  with  the  Greek 
saying,  "  Big  book,  big  evil!  "  It  is  an  in- 
describable nuisance  to  fumble  over  a  roll 
of  more  than  a  certain  length  hunting  for  a 
desired  passage.  Not  many  volumes  run 
over  100  pages,1  and  many  are  much 
smaller.  Each  sheet  constitutes  a  sepa- 
rate page  (varying  between  six  to  twelve  inches  high),  with 
the  writing  usually  in  a  single  column,  four  to  six  inches 
broad,  on  each  page,  and  a  blank  space  crossed  by  a  red  line 
before  the  next  page  begins. 

1  We  hear,  however,  of  a  single  copy  of  Thucydides  that  required  578 
pages,  making  a  roll  about  100  yards  long  —  a  most  cumbersome  volume. 


Books  and  Libraries  211 

It  is  impossible  to  read  with  any  convenience  writing  on 
more  than  one  side  of  the  papyrus  prepared  in  this  manner. 
The  result  is  that  discarded  books  are  often  used  for  school- 
boys' exercises  or  for  mere  scribbling  "  paper" ;  although,  if 
the  papyrus  is  very  firm,  often  the  writing  can  be  sponged  out 
and  a  whole  new  work  can  be  written  over  the  vanished 
sentences.  Books  being  of  this  character,  it  is  impossible 
really  to  prepare  the  "  ponderous  tomes  "  of  a  later  day. 
"  Volumes  "  are  very  short.  The  Iliad  of  Homer  is  ordinarily 
in  twenty-four  separate  rolls,  one  for  each  of  its  "  books," 
and  the  same  arrangement  obtains  for 
other  standard  works.  Very  many 
"  books "  in  the  Roman  libraries, 
therefore,  are  really  little  more  than 

For  writing  on  parchment,  of 
course,  one  cannot  use  the  stylus. 
Reed  pens  skilfully  cut  may  suffice, 
with  a  thick  ink  made  of  lampblack 

and  gum  for  ordinary  purposes  and 

,  ,  .  ,       .  ,         i  ,          PEN  AND  SCROLL. 

also  a  red  ink,  rich  and  permanent, 

for  ornamental  lines.  In  Calvus's  library,  as  in  almost  every 
other,  are  two  large  beautifully  wrought  ink  wells,  made  of 
bronze  with  silver  chasings,  and  attached  together — one  for 
the  black  ink  and  one  for  the  red. 

187.  Mounting  and  Rolling  of  Books.  The  mounting  of 
the  papyrus  long  roll  is  a  great  art,  especially  if  the  book  is 
intended  for  a  fine  library.  First,  the  whole  long  strip  of 
papyrus  is  dressed  with  cedar  oil  to  repel  worms  —  thus 
giving  the  pages  a  pleasing  yellow  tinge.  Then  the  last  leaf 
is  fastened  to  a  thin  cylinder  of  wood  or  of  rolled  papyrus 
called  the  umbilicus.  The  ends  of  the  roll  itself  are  carefully 
cut  and  smoothed  with  pumice  stone,  and  the  ends  of  the 
umbilicus  are  often  gilded.  Next  a  strip  of  solid  parchment 

A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

bearing  the  title  of  the  book  in  handsome  red  letters  is  at- 
tached by  a  string  at  one  end,  where  it  will  hang  down  when 
the  volume  is  rolled. 

After  the  book  itself  is  ready  a  neat  cylindrical  cover  or 
case  must  be  made  of  parchment,  colored  red  or  yellow,  and 
also  marked  with  the  title.  For  really  fine  volumes  additional 
elegancies  are  possible  ;  for  example,  a  handsome  portrait  of 
the  author  can  be  painted  or  pasted  upon  the  first  page,  and 
the  edges  of  the  entire  scroll  can  be  colored.  Handsomely 

illustrated  works  grace 
every  good  library. 

To  read  these  books 
will  seem  to  persons 
familiar  only  with  cod- 
exes  (flat  opening  books) 
extremely  cumbersome.1 
You  have  to  take  the 

volume  in  both  hands, 
BOOK  SCROLL.  ir         .,,    ,,       .  ,  , 

unrolling  with  the  right 

while  you  roll  up  with  the  left.  It  seems  nigh  impossible 
to  "  run  through  "  such  a  volume,  and  hard  to  trace  down 
a  passage  ;  and  there  are  apparently  no  indices.  However, 
practice  can  make  almost  perfect.  Calvus  can  roll  and  un- 
roll his  books  with  remarkable  dexterity  and  by  a  kind  of 
instinct  hit  promptly  upon  almost  any  allusion.  It  will  be 
a  real  gain  for  the  world,  nevertheless,  when  the  roll  is 
supplanted  by  the  many-leaved  book. 

188.  Copying  Books  :  the  Publishing  Business.  Horace's 
and  Martial's  Publishers.  —  Books  abound,  although  of 
course  all  are  multiplied  by  painful  human  effort.  This  is 
because  slave  copyists  are  relatively  cheap.  Atticus,  Cicero's 

1  The  use  of  flat  opening  books  of  the  style  later  so  familiar  came  in 
before  the  fall  of  the  Roman  Empire,  but  they  were  apparently  used  only 
for  merchants'  ledgers,  etc.,  in  the  time  of  Hadrian. 

Books  and  Libraries  £13 

friend,  seems  to  have  made  a  real  fortune  in  the  publishing 
business  —  that  is,  he  owned  a  great  corps  of  skilful  slaves 
incessantly  busy  transcribing  manuscripts.  The  finest  copies 
must  be  made  deliberately  one  by  one,  but  ordinary  volumes 
can  be  multiplied  more  summarily.  As  you  go  about  Rome 
you  will  perhaps  come  on  large  rooms  where  a  great  number 
of  scribes  are  seated  in  a  kind  of  lecture  hall  desperately 
following  word  for  word  some  reader  who,  in  a  smooth,  mon- 
otonous voice,  is  giving  out  the  text  either  of  an  established 
classic  or  the  newest  essays  or  epigrams  of  the  successors 
of  Pliny  the  Younger  or  Martial.  In  this  way  what  is  really 
an  "  edition  "  of  say  a  hundred  or  even  two  hundred  copies 
can  be  produced  in  a  remarkably  short  time,  without  the  aid 
of  the  printing  press.1 

The  publisher,  and  even  more  the  authors  who  try  to  live 
by  their  literary  genius,  are,  however,  under  a  grave  handi- 
cap. There  is  no  copyright.  What  you  "  publish  "  today, 
may  be  flagrantly  recopied  and  sold  under  your  very  nose 
tomorrow  —  possibly  with  errors  and  interpolations  cal- 
culated to  drive  an  author  frantic.  The  average  aspirant 
for  literary  fame  unless  he  has  personal  means  is  therefore 
constrained,  as  were  Horace  and  Martial,  to  hunt  up  a  rich 
patron  who  for  the  joy  of  being  "  immortalized  "  will  keep 
him  from  starving. 

However,  every  aspiring  author  tries  to  find  some  book- 
seller, who  will  turn  his  works  over  to  a  corps  of  competent 
slaves,  and  then  vend  the  products.  There  is  a  regular  book- 
sellers'  quarter  in  Rome  down  by  the  Forum  of  Caesar  in  the 
heart  of  the  commercial  district.  Here  Horace's  old  pub- 
lishers, the  Sosii,  had  their  stalls ;  and  Martial's  publishers, 
the  firm  headed  by  the  clever  freedman  Allectus,  are  still 
there  in  the  business. 

1  This  was  the  probable  method  of  multiplying  popular  books,  but 
we  lack  very  precise  knowledge. 

214  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

At  Allectus's  shop  they  will  tell  you  how  the  epigramist 
used  to  drop  in  with  pardonable  vanity  to  see  how  from  "  the 
first  or  second  shelf  they  would  hand  down  a  '  Martial/  well 
smoothed  with  pumice  stone  and  adorned  with  purple  —  all 
for  five  denarii  (80  cents)."  On  the  columns  by  the  entrance 
to  this  and  the  rival  shops  are  plastered  up  long  lists  of  new 
publications  —  often  with  sample  extracts  to  prove  their  wit 
or  learning ;  or  announcement  of  new  or  old  copies  of  standard 
works  from  Homer  down  to  that  clever  Greek  litterateur 
Plutarch,  who  has  recently  died  in  Boeotia ;  or  in  Latin  from 
old  Nsevius  and  Ennius  to  the  recent  biographies  of  the 
Caesars  by  the  imperial  secretary  Suetonius. 

Considering  the  labor  of  copying,  the  price  of  books  is 
moderate ;  a  small  volume  of  poems  by  a  popular  writer  can 
be  had  for  as  little  as  two  denarii  (32  cents),  although  such  a 
scroll  would  probably  be  only  equivalent  to  a  thin  pamphlet 
of  later-day  printing,  and  the  works  of  a  really  voluminous 
author  like  Pliny  the  Elder  might  appear  ruinously  expensive. 

189.  Passion  for  Literary  "  Fame."  —  Expensive  or  cheap, 
by  men  of  education  a  certain  number  of  books  must  be  had. 
Perhaps  the  Age  of  Hadrian  will  fail  to  leave  a  great  mark  in 
the  history  of  either  Greek  or  Latin  letters,  but  that  will  not 
be  because  literary  fame  is  not  passionately  sought  after. 
Everybody  is  anxious  to  dabble  in  authorship.  Everybody 
(in  the  upper  circles)  seems  incessantly  compounding  formal 
"epistles/'  memoirs,  essays,  rhetorical  and  sentimental 
histories,  and  last  but  not  least  great  quantities  of  verses 
which  pass  as  "poetry."  Pliny  the  Younger  (not  long 
dead)  was  incessantly  urging  his  correspondents  to  write : 
"  to  mould  something,  hammer  out  something,  that  shall  be 
known  as  yours  for  all  time."  The  same  pathetic  desire  for 
immortality  which  leads  to  ostentatious  funeral  monuments 
and  to  endowed  funeral  feasts,  perhaps  puts  a  premium  upon 
this  mania. 

Books  and  Libraries  215 

The  fine  gentlemen  and  ladies  who  share  these  tastes  boast 
that  nothing  can  interrupt  their  furious  pursuit  of  "  letters." 
Senators  like  to  inform  their  friends  that  even  while  hunting 
boars  in  the  Apennines  they  keep  their  writing  tablets  and 
stylus  near  them  when  watching  for  the  beaters  to  drive  the 
game  into  the  nets  —  what  precious  sentences  might  escape 
them  otherwise !  They  like  also  to  have  freedman  or  slave 
"  readers  "  always  at  their  elbows  to  keep  up  a  flow  of  poetry 
or  philosophy  apparently  all  the  time  when  they  are  not 
eating,  exercising,  or  conversing.1 

It  is  also  a  kind  of  etiquette  for  all  members  of  the  gilded 
literary  circle  to  keep  sending  their  unpublished  effusions 
around  among  their  friends  with  demands  for  "  entirely 
frank  and  severe  criticism  "  ;  the  response  always  being  a  long 
letter  of  praise  even  for  very  mediocre  efforts.  "  Terse, 
lucid,  brilliant,  stately/'  or  even  "  keen,  impassioned,  grace- 
ful "  —  these  are  grievously  overworked  adjectives,  although 
perhaps  at  the  end  of  the  answers  there  are  a  few  polite  hints 
suggesting  a  slight  improvement. 

The  Latin-speaking  provinces  are  said  to  follow  Roman 
literary  celebrities  intently.  Nothing  delights  the  latter 
more  than  to  learn  that  their  fame  has  spread  to  distant 
parts.  Tacitus  was  certainly  a  great  historian,  but  he  was  a 
man  of  his  time  and  also  a  very  warm  friend  of  Pliny  the 
Younger.  Oft  repeated  is  the  story  of  a  conversation  he  had 
in  the  circus,  where  on  the  front  benches  for  notables  he  met  a 
"  certain  learned  provincial/'  The  twain,  without  intro- 
duction, fell  into  a  delightful  literary  conversation,  until  the 
stranger  who  manifestly  was  very  up-to-date  asked :  "  Are 
you  from  Italy  or  the  provinces?"  "Ah,"  said  Tacitus, 

1  Pliny  the  Younger  had  a  favorite  reader  Eucolpus.  When  he  fell  ill 
his  master  was  sadly  tormented:  "Who  will  read  my  books  and  take 
such  an  interest  in  them?  Where  can  I  find  another  with  BO  pleasant  a 
reading  voice?*' 


A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

"  you  know  me  very  well  from  my  books  that  you've 
read"  "  Then,"  cried  the  other,  "  you  are  either  Tacitus 
or  Pliny  I" 

190.  Zeal  for  Poetry:  Multiplication  of  Verses.  — Prose 
compositions  in  smooth  and  fastidious  Latin,  or  in  very 
passable  Greek  are  common  enough,  but  even  the  authors  of 
genuinely  superior  histories  or  literary  essays,  often  desire 
to  become  something  more  magnificent  —  they  wish  to  be 

OLD  FORUM  :  looking  towards  northern  side,  with  the  Curia  shown  be- 
hind the  high  columns  in  foreground ;   restoration  by  Spandoni. 

poets.  Very  famous  Romans  have  put  forth  their  energies 
over  iambics,  elegiacs,  or  hexameters;  Sulla,  Cicero,  Hor- 
tensitis  the  Orator,  Julius  Caesar,  Brutus,  Augustus,  Tiberius, 
Seneca,  Nerva  —  the  list  of  such  celebrities  could  be  made 
much  longer.  Of  course,  every  loyal  subject  knows  that  the 
reigning  Hadrian  is  the  author  of  clever  epigrams,  which 
would  really  deserve  a  certain  fame  even  if  their  author  had 
Eved  in  the  Subura  and  not  upon  the  Palatine.1 

1  Hadrian's  famous  and  pathetic  poem  "To  his  own  soul"  was  not, 
of  course,  composed  until  he  lay  on  his  death  bed  (138  AJ>,)« 

Books  and  Libraries  217 

Probably  if  there  could  be  physical  measuring  rods  where- 
with to  determine  it,  the  sheer  quantity  of  Latin,  and  also  of 
Greek  verses,  being  thrust  upon  the  world  every  year  would 
seem  prodigious.  At  Allectus  and  Company  they  will  tell 
you  that  Romanus  has  just  brought  out  some  very  acceptable 
"  Old  Comedies  "  in  the  style  of  Aristophanes,  and  some 
other  "  New  Comedies  "  in  iambics  worthy  to  be  classed 
with  Plautus  and  Terence.  The  noble  Caninius,  too,  has  at 
last  completed  and  published  a  remarkable  Greek  epic :  "  The 
Dacian  War  "  —  celebrating  Trajan's  victories  in  a  manner 
quite  worthy,  let  us  say,  of  Homer  and  Hesiod.  True,  the 
uncouth  names  of  Dacian  barbarians  do  not  fit  well  into  the 
hexameters,  and  especially  that  of  their  king,  "  Decebalus," 
is  metrically  almost  impossible,  but  ingenious  poetical  license 
has  overcome  the  difficulty.  Who  can  doubt  that  Caninius's 
"  long  poem  "  will  live  across  the  ages  ? l 

Such  a  practical  man  of  affairs  as  Calvus  does  not  take  all 
the  smooth  compliments  proffered  his  efforts  over-seriously ; 
but  even  our  friendly  senator  can  feel  a  thrill  of  pleasure  when 
he  dashes  off  a  dozen  elegiacs  in  praise  of  his  mountain  villa, 
and  hears  the  "  Euge!  Euge!  "  (he  hopes  not  too  insincere) 
of  his  guests  as  he  reads  them  at  a  dinner  party. 

191.  Size  of  Libraries.  —  With  such  an  affectation  for 
books  and  literary  fame  there  are  inevitably  great  libraries. 
Long  ago  the  old  Hebrew  gloomily  recorded,  "  Of  making  of 
many  books  there  is  no  end,"  and  his  sighs  would  have  in- 
creased could  he  have  seen  the  collections  in  Rome.  The 
small  size  of  the  volumes  indeed  makes  it  hard  to  compare 
these  libraries  with  those  of  other  ages.  The  largest  library 
in  the  world  is  that  at  Alexandria  with  some  400,000  rolls, 
but  there  are  public  collections  in  Rome  not  very  much 
smaller.  As  for  private  libraries,  a  certain  rich  and  learned 

1  These  men  were  well-known  poets  according  again  to  Pliny  the 
Younger.  The  world  undoubtedly  gained  when  their  verses  perished. 

218  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

senator  has  about  60,000  rolls.1  Calvus  and  his  friends  make 
no  such  boast,  and  he  contents  himself  with  some  4000 
volumes.  This  is  respectable,  but  nowise  an  unusual  col- 
lection for  a  man  of  refined  tastes,  and  it  has  plenty  of  counter- 
parts all  over  the  city. 

192.  A  Private  Library.  —  The  library  in  the  house  of  Cal- 
vus is  small  but  sumptuously  furnished.  Around  a  large  part 
of  the  walls  extend  great  tiers  of  large  pigeonholes  made  of 
finely  carved  wood,  and  in  each  hole  is  a  group  of  rolls,  either 
the  complete  works  of  a  voluminous  author,  or  a  collection  of 
smaller  books  on  a  single  subject.  The  bright  red  lettering 
on  the  dangling  labels,  the  gilt  ends  of  the  rolling  rods,  the 
pleasing  soft  yellow  of  the  end  of  the  papyri  (if  these  are  not 
also  colored  red)  give  a  luxurious  appearance  to  the  collection. 

Set  above  the  tiers  of  books  in  such  a  room  is  a  long  array  of 
fine  busts  in  bronze  and  marble  of  nearly  all  the  distinguished 
literary  figures  of  Greece  or  Italy.  Calvus  has  just  added  a 
handsome  bronze  of  the  comedian  Menander.  The  careful 
frescos  on  the  exposed  walls  have  to  do  with  learned  mytho- 
logical subjects;  there  is  also  a  fine  life-sized  statue  of 
Minerva  the  patroness  of  letters,  and  on  a  long  shelf  stand 
really  beautiful  silver  statuettes  of  all  the  Nine  Muses. 
Along  one  side  of  the  library  there  are  also  tables  where 
Harpocration,  Calvus's  truly  learned  and  capable  freedman 
librarian  (Kbrarius),  who  assists  in  all  his  patron's  studies, 
can  spread  out  rolls  for  patching,  rewinding,  or  even  for  re- 
copying;  also  a  convenient  writing  couch  for  the  senator 
himself  when  he  wishes  to  take  his  tablets  and  compile  those 
fine  "  extracts  "  which  the  literary  world  delights  to  cull 
from  every  possible  author,  or  to  try  his  own  hand  at  original 

lThe  record  for  a  private  collection  —  62,000  rolls,  owned  by  the 
senator  Serenus,  dates  about  235  A.D.,  but  there  is  no  reason  to  suppose 
that  there  were  not  libraries  equally  large  under  Hadrian. 

Books  and  Libraries  219 

Calvus  is  not  a  virtuoso,  however,  and  does  not  imitate  such 
wealthy  enthusiasts  as  the  poet  Silius  Italicus  who  collected 
all  kinds  of  rare  editions,  crammed  his  house  with  every 
imaginable  writer,  and  "  kept  Virgil's  birthday  more  carefully 
than  he  did  his  own."  For  all  that  Harpocration  has  been 
commended  for  hanging  a  small  wreath  around  the  bust  of 
Sophocles,  this  day  being  the  reputed  anniversary  of  the 
death  of  the  great  tragedian. 

193.  The  Great  Public  Libraries  of  Rome.  —  Into  the 
Public  Libraries  of  Rome  we  cannot  enter.  They  exist 
nevertheless  as  great  and  beneficent  institutions  although 
probably  only  a  favored  few  are  permitted  to  read  their 
treasures  except  inside  their  ample  halls.1  The  oldest  public 
library  is  that  founded  by  Asinius  Pollio  (an  officer  of 
Julius  Caesar)  and  is  located  on  the  rather  distant  Aven- 
tine.  Caesar  himself  projected  two  very  grand  Greek  and 
Latin  Libraries  but  did  not  live  to  create  them ;  Augustus 
founded  a  very  fine  library  in  the  Temple  of  Apollo  on  the 
Palatine  (making  it  virtually  the  imperial  palace  library), 
and  his  sister  Octavia  created  another.  There  is  still  a 
fourth  good  library  in  the  Temple  of  Peace  founded  by 
Vespasian;  but  all  these  are  now  overshadowed  by  the 
relatively  new  "  Ulpian  Libraries  "  established  by  Trajan  at 
his  new  Forum.  These  enormous  collections  of  Greek  and 
Latin  rolls  make  Rome  by  far  the  greatest  repository  of 
literary  treasures  in  the  entire  world,  barring  always  the 
famous  collection  in  Alexandria. 

1  Concerning  the  actual  arrangement  of  these  public  libraries  we  know 
very  little. 




194.  Passion  for  Gain  in  Rome.  —  Much  has  been  said 
about  Roman  trade  and  riches,  but  this  is  no  place  for  an 
economic  survey  of  the  realm  of  the  Csesars.  It  is  impossible, 
however,  to  ignore  the  outward  side  of  that  commercial 
activity  which  is  everywhere  in  evidence  around  the  imperial 

The  desire  for  gold,  doubtless,  had  its  potence  in  old  Egypt 
and  Babylonia,  and  most  certainly  in  old  Tyre  and  Carthage, 
but  never  has  the  fierce  passion  burned  much  keener  than 
along  the  Seven  Hills.  Go  into  many  a  pretentious  vesti- 
bule ;  in  the  mosaic  pavement  are  set  as  mottoes,  "  Salve 
Lucrum!"  ("Hail,  Profit!")  or  "  Lucrum  Gaudium!" 
("  Profit  is  pure  joy !  ").  Hearken  also  to  the  cynical  poets 
of  society,  for  example,  to  Juvenal :  "  No  deity  among  us  is 
held  in  such  reverence  as  Riches;  though  as  yet,  O  baneful 
Money,  thou  hast  no  temple  of  thine  own  !  Not  yet  have  we 
reared  fanes  to  Money  in  like  manner  we  have  to  Peace  and 
Honor,  Virtue,  Victory,  and  Concord."  And  he  speaks 
again :  "  No  human  passion  has  mingled  more  poison  bowls, 
none  has  more  often  plied  the  murderer's  dagger  than  the 
violent  craving  for  unbounded  wealth." 

His  less  sedate  but  not  less  cynical  contemporary,  Martial, 
echoes  his  words.  He  recommends  that  an  honest  friend 
should  leave  Rome;  he  cannot  succeed  for  he  is  neither  a 
rake  nor  a  parasite ;  he  cannot  tell  lies  like  an  auctioneer, 
wheedle  old  ladies  out  of  their  property,  sell  "  smoke " 


Banks,  Shops,  and  Inns      221 

("  empty  rumors,"  in  other  words  political,  gaming,  or  com- 
mercial tips),  nor  otherwise  earn  a  corrupt  living.  Martial 
tells  us  too  of  despicable  misers  who,  as  their  vast  fortunes 
increase,  let  their  togas  become  even  more  dirty,  their 
tunics  still  worse,  their  wine  mere  dregs,  and  their  main  diet 
one  of  half -cooked  peas. 

Perhaps  such  sordid  creatures,  however,  are  no  worse  than 
the  others  who  struggle  for  riches  simply  to  enjoy  gross 
material  vanities ;  who  desire  "  that  their  Tuscan  estates 
may  clink  with  the  fetters  of  innumerable  toiling  slaves  in 
order  that  they  may  own  a  hundred  tables  of  Moorish  marble 
supported  pedestals,  that  gold  ornaments  may  jingle  from 
their  couches,  that  they  may  never  drink  anything  but  Fal- 
ernian  cooled  with  snow  from  large  crystal  goblets,  and  that 
a  crowd  of  clients  may  follow  then:  litters ;  etc.,  etc."  And 
long  before  Martial,  Horace  has  asserted,  "  All  the  arches  of 
Janus  [the  typical  Latin  deity]  from  end  to  end  teach  one 
lesson  to  young  and  old  '  Oh,  fellow  citizens,  fellow  citizens, 
money  is  the  first  thing  to  seek  —  virtue  after  money  !  '  " 

195.  Life  in  Rome  Expensive.  Premiums  upon  Extrava- 
gance and  Pretence.  —  With  every  deduction  from  such 
charges  Rome  is  undoubtedly  an  extremely  expensive  city 
to  dwell  in,  probably  the  most  expensive  in  the  whole  Empire, 
and  in  all  but  very  limited  circles  the  pressure  for  wealth  is 
inconceivable.  A  typical  man-of -affairs  is  represented  as 
boasting  to  his  cronies,  "  Coranus  owes  me  100,000  sesterces 
($4,000);  Mancinus  200,000;  Titius  300,000;  Albinus 
600,000 ;  Salinus  a  million ;  Soranus  another  million ;  from 
the  rent  of  my  insulse  I  get  three  million  ($120,000) ;  from 
the  flocks  on  my  pasture  lands  600,000."  On  any  night  at 
half  the  triclinia,  the  mighty  equites  and  senators  can  be  heard 
talking  about  investments,  real  estate  transactions,  govern- 
ment contracts,  and  foreign  trade  prospects,  far  more  vigor- 
ously than  concerning  either  the  wisdom  of  the  Emperor's 

222  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

policy  in  building  the  wall  across  Britain,  or  the  philoso- 
pher's doctrine  of  the  immortality  of  the  soul. 

The  very  life  of  the  city  puts  a  premium  in  fact  on  getting 
and  spending.  A  youth  inheriting  a  modest  fortune  in  the 
provinces  comes  to  Rome.  In  a  few  months  his  patrimony 
has  drifted  away  on  fish-mongers,  bakers,  luxurious  baths, 
ointments,  and  garlands,  not  to  mention  fine  clothes,  game- 
sters, and  dancing  girls.  In  many  circles  an  outlay  of 
40,000  sesterces  ($1600)  is  "  a  mere  pinch  of  poppy  seed 
for  an  ant-hilL"  You  must  at  least  seem  rich  or  you  amount 
to  nothing. 

Half  the  young  men  of  fashion  are  therefore,  good  authori- 
ties aver,  up  to  their  ears  in  debt ;  but  anybody  with  a  little 
ready  money  can  put  on  a  bold  countenance  to  make  an 
impression.  Many  is  the  apparent  aristocrat  who  is  swung 
along  in  a  fine  litter,  his  violet  robes  trailing,  and  with  a  long 
train  apparently  of  clients  and  slaves  following  him,  who  has 
actually  hired  litter  and  attendants,  nay,  the  gown  which  he 
wears  from  a  ready  contractor  —  in  order  perhaps  to  carry 
his  part  in  some  business  conference  at  the  Forum.  And  if 
you  are  to  plead  a  case  as  advocate  but  are  unluckily  a  poor 
man,  nevertheless  be  sure  to  hire  a  fine'  toga  and  a  couple  of 
handsome  rings  to  wear  through  the  morning,  or  the  jurors 
will  assume  you  are  a  nobody  and  promptly  vote  against  you. 

196.  Rome  a  City  of  Investors  and  Buyers  of  Luxuries.  — 
Everybody  declaims  against  this  scramble  for  wealth  and  yet 
joins  in  it.  Even  Martial  and  Juvenal,  it  is  peevishly  averred, 
would  have  held  back  their  jibes  if  their  financial  hopes  had 
prospered.  Be  it  said  also  that  this  struggle  in  Rome  is 
probably  not  much  more  sordid  than  it  can  become  in  other 
capitals  in  other  ages.  The  standards  of  business  honesty 
are  relatively  high.  Most  bargains  are  faithfully  kept.  A 
great  credit  system  has  been  built  up  —  itself  a  witness  to 
the  fact  that  most  traders  are  honorable. 

Banks,  Shops,  and  Inns  22S 

The  business  life  of  Rome  flows  in  many  channels,  but  in 
general  the  Eternal  City  does  not  compete  with  Alexandria, 
or  even  with  certain  smaller  Grseco-Levantine  cities,  as 
an  industrial  or  distributing  center.  Rome  receives  much. 
The  great  incomes  from  investments  in  the  provinces  and  from 
the  expenditure  in  the  city  of  the  imperial  revenues,  make  it 
possible  to  pay  for  enormous  quantities  of  luxuries  for  which 
no  corresponding  articles  are  exported  in  return.  There  are 
many  petty  industries  but  they  exist  mainly  for  local  needs. 
Rome  exports  legions  and  law-givers,  so  her  inhabitants 
assert  proudly,  —  is  it  not  right,  therefore,  that  she  should 
wax  fat  upon  the  tributes  of  the  world,  when  she  can  repay 
them  with  the  blessed  pax  Romano,  f  * 

197.  Multiplicity  of  Shops%.  The  Great  Shopping  Districts. 
—  But  if  the  industrial  life  of  the  city  is  relatively  weak, 
never  before  has  there  been  such  a  "  wilderness  of  shops  " 
as  spreads  itself  along  the  streets  of  Rome.  A  certain  type 
of  shops  can  be  found  everywhere ;  hardly  a  street  but  has 
grocers'  stalls ;  the  terra  cotta  plaque  with  a  goat,  the  sign 
of  a  milk  dealer ;  the  stone  relief  of  two  men  tugging  a  great 
jar  slung  up  on  a  pole,  the  sign  of  a  wine  shop,  and  the  like. 

There  are  nevertheless  certain  great  retail  quarters  to 
visit  if  you  are  seeking  for  articles  of  vertu  and  price.  The 
fashionable  fish-mongers  have  their  odoriferous  stalls  under 
the  great  porticoes  and  basilicas  by  the  fora;  the  fruit 
sellers  are  along  the  ascent  from  the  Old  Forum  to  the  top  of 
the  Velia  (a  spur  of  the  Palatine  flung  out  toward  the  Esqui- 
line) ;  while  the  jewelers,  goldsmiths,  and  makers  of  musical 
instruments  as  well  as  the  great  bankers  have  their  head- 
quarters directly  along  the  Sacred  Way  itself.  The  per- 
fumers' shops  in  turn  are  well  concentrated  under  the  south- 
east brow  of  the  Capitoline. 

1  Of  course,  by  Hadrian's  time  an  increasingly  large  proportion  of  the 
privates  of  the  army  was  being  recruited  in  the  provinces. 


A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

In  addition  to  these,  however,  there  exist  two  grand  shop- 
ping districts  for  Rome  outside  the  Fora  themselves :  for 
the  cheap  trade,  where  elbowing  plebeians  struggle  for 
bargains,  we  find  that  the  little  shops  are  wedged  all  along  the 
swarming  Tuscan  Street  (Vicus  Tusciis)  going  south  from  the 
Old  Forum  toward  the  Circus  Maximus  and  the  adjacent  cross 
streets ;  but  for  the  more  select  pur- 
chases high-born  ladies  and  gentlemen 
order  their  litters  to  take  them  north- 
ward along  "Broadway"  (Via  Lata), 
where  by  the  Ssepta  Julia  and  the  vast 
series  of  porticoes  adjoining  or  opposite 
are  the  finest  retail  shops  in  the  entire 

198.  Arrangement  of  Shops. 
Streets  Blocked  by  Hucksters.  — 
What  the  inferior  shops  were  like  has 
been  already  seen  in  the  local  survey 
of  Mercury  Street.  They  are  almost 
countless  in  number  but  are  very 
small,  the  bulk  of  their  wares  being 
on  sale  upon  the  open  counters  facing 
the  street,  and  often  you  can  make  all 
your  purchases  without  going  inside. 
The  proprietor  and  his  wife  with  a 
slave  or  two  manage  the  entire  business,  unless,  indeed,  they 
manufacture,  let  us  say,  the  shoes  which  they  retail;  in 
which  case  a  workroom  directly  in  the  rear  keeps  busy  a  few 
more  slaves  or  free  wage-workers. 

The  shop  fronts  are  protected  at  night  and  on  holidays  by 
heavy  wooden  shutters  which,  when  raised,  project  into  the 
street  serving  as  a  kind  of  awnings.  They  are  the  more 
necessary  to  guard  against  thieves  and  also  against  a  riot. 
Shop-keepers  are  proverbially  timid  folk,  and  to  say  "  all 


Banks,  Shops,  and  Inns      225 

the  shutters  are  being  closed  down  "  is  practically  to  say 
that  a  brawl  or  a  tumult  seems  possible.  The  small  size  of 
these  shops  makes  their  owners  encroach  upon  the  streets 
whenever  they  can.  The  counters  thrust  out  over  the 
scanty  sidewalk,  while  pedestrians  trip  over  the  boards  with 
placards  set  in  front  of  the  shops  advertising  the  wares 

In  such  narrow  streets  a  little  knot  of  bargain  hunters  can 
readily  halt  all  traffic.  Every  now  and  then,  indeed,  the 
City  Prefect  orders  his  deputies,  "  Enforce  the  shop  edicts !  '* 
A  few  offending  hucksters  are  hailed  into  court  and  the  rest 
draw  back  their  counters.  "  Now  the  city  is  Rome  again 
and  not  one  vast  bazaar/'  rejoice  the  poets  of  the  hour. 
Then,  after  a  little,  official  zeal  abates,  and  the  streets  are  as 
badly  cumbered  as  before. 

A  great  deal  of  the  trading,  however,  goes  on  without  any 
permanent  shops  at  all.  In  almost  any  cross-street  or  little 
square  one  can  get  a  license  to  locate  a  table  and  to  set  thereon 
a  small  stock  of  such  articles  as  copper  or  iron  pots,  the 
cheaper  grades  of  women's  and  men's  shoes,  or  pieces  of 
cloth,  probably  woven  b;y  -he  huckster  himself,  not  to 
mention  all  kinds  of  edibles,  also  the  stands  of  menders  of 
old  pots,  and  others  of  public  letter-writers  for  the  illiterate. 
Through  the  midst  of  all  these,  beggars  glide  whining  for 
alms,  and  children  dash  about  playing  hide-and-go-seek.1 

199.  Barber  Shops  and  Auction  Sales.  —  An  institution 
almost  as  familiar  in  Rome  as  in  Athens  2  is  the  barber  shop. 
Not  that  a  shop  is  really  needful.  Many  a  dirty  tonsor  will 
put  down  a  low  stool  in  the  middle  of  the  crowd  in  the  very 
street  and  ply  his  shears  or  razor  upon  any  poor  wight  who 

1  All  these  hucksters*  stalls  as  well  as  the  beggars  and  the  playing  chil- 
dren are  depicted  in  certain  very  informing  frescos  in  a  house  at  Pompeii, 
showing  life  in  the  forum  of  that  little  city. 

*  See  "  A  Day  in  Old  Athens,"  p.  24, 

226  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

can  find  a  guadrans  (small  copper).  The  finer  barber  shops, 
however,  are  really  elegant  establishments,  fitted  to  please  the 
fastidious.  Here  men  of  parts  and  fashion  can  meet  to  hear 
the  latest  gossip,  and  perhaps  to  read  a  copy  of  the  "  Daily 
Gazette"  (see  p.  282).  A  complete  manicure  service  is 
afforded ;  superfluous  hairs  are  removed  with  tweezers  or 
depilatories,  and  nails  polished  and  faces  massaged  very 
skilfully;  although  some  inferior  barbers  are  railed  at 
bitterly,  and  it  is  charged  that  their  patrons  "  may  count 
the  scars  on  their  chins  like  those  on  an  aged  boxer,  or  those 
marks  produced  by  the  nails  of  enraged  wives." 

Another  institution  much  frequented  is  the  auctioneer's 
room.  Auction  seems  at  Rome  an  ideal  method  for  realizing 
quickly  upon  property,  and  bidding  is  often  keen.  The 
auctioneers  are  past-masters  in  stimulating  the  bidders,  and 
in  praising-up  worthless  articles.  An  auction  sale  is  the 
normal  end  for  the  career  of  a  spendthrift  when  his  creditors 
seize  his  plate  and  furniture.  A  dozen  times  around  the  city 
one  can  see  placards  like  the  following,  tactfully  worded  to 
save  the  pride  of  the  unfortunate  debtor : x 





200.  Superior  Retail  Stores.  —  However,  besides  the  petty 
shops  and  street  traders  there  are  the  really  magnificent 
stores,  especially  toward  the  Campus  Martius  where  articles 
of  verfa  attract  the  wealthy.  If  you  have  wealth,  you  can 
deHght  yourself  in  splendid  establishments  offering  citrus- 

1  This  form  of  advertisement  is  given  in  Petronhia. 

Banks,  Shops,  and  Inns      227 

wood  tables,  veneered  with  ivory  and  gold,  with  other  articles 
of  furniture  to  match,  or  candelabra  that  are  massy  works  of 
art,  or  vases  and  mirrors  of  every  possible  style  and  elegance, 
and  where  all  kinds  of  fine  pottery,  plate,  and  bric-a-brac,  as 
well  as  gorgeous  upholsteries,  tapestries,  and  carpets,  can  be 
had  for  a  price. 

To  thrust  into  these  places  that  welcome  only  the  most 
aristocratic  clientele  is  the  delight  of  those  professional 
shoppers,  which  abound  in  Rome  as  in  many  another  city. 
Martial's  Mamurra  will  have  many  survivors  in  the  next 
generation.  This  worthy  fellow  put  in  his  days  at  the  richest 
bazaars  along  the  Ssepta  Julia.  He  would  force  his  way 
to  inner  rooms  where  the  handsomest  and  most  expensive 
slaves  were  on  private  exhibition.  He  made  obsequious 
clerks  uncover  fine  tables  "  square  and  round,  and  next  asked 
to  see  some  rich  ivory  ornaments  displayed  on  the  upper 
shelves."  He  measured  a  tortoise-shell  veneered  dinner 
couch  five  times,  then  sighed,  "  It's  not  long  enough  for  my 
citrus  table."  He  smelled  of  rare  bronzes  "  to  see  if  they 
were  real  Corinthian  " ;  criticized  a  statue  by  Polycleitus, 
had  ten  porcelain  cups  "  set  aside  *'  to  be  taken  by  him 
later,  examined  some  splendid  antique  goblets,  made  a  jeweler 
let  him  inspect  some  emeralds  in  a  splendid  gold  setting,  also 
some  valuable  pearl  ear  pendants,  and  complained  aloud  that 
he  was  seeking  "  real  sardonyxes."  At  last,  just  as  the  shops 
closed  for  the  day,  utterly  wearied,  "  he  bought  two  earthen 
cups  for  one  small  coin  and  bore  them  home  himself." 

201.  Numerous  Banks  and  Bankers.  —  All  this  trade 
implies  the  handling  of  great  sums  of  money,  and  for  its 
care  banks  and  bankers  are  everywhere  in  evidence.  The 
Romans  naturally  run  to  finance.  It  appeals  to  their  keen 
sense  of  the  practical.  Even  before  Caesar's  conquest  it  was 
boasted  that  rarely  a  large  sum  changed  hands  in  Gaul 
without  its  being  entered  in  an  Italian  account  book ;  while  in 

A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

Nero's  day  a  serious  revolt  in  Britain  was  said  to  have  been 
precipitated  by  the  act  of  the  millionaire  philosopher,  Seneca, 
in  calling  in  his  British  loans,  thereby  reducing  certain  tribes 
to  beggary. 

Stocks,  bonds,  and  long-time  government  securities  do  not 
indeed  exist,  and  there  is  no  regular  stock  exchange,  but  in 
many  respects  about  all  the  other  financial  conveniences  of  a 
later  age  can  be  found  by  the  Tiber.  There  are  two  kinds  of 
money  handlers  —  mere  coin-changers,  dealing  in  foreign 
mintages  and  often  no  doubt  accepting  sums  merely  for  safe 
keeping  in  their  strong  boxes  ;  and  above  them  are  the  real 
bankers  acting  under  a  kind  of  state  license  and  doing  busi- 
ness on  the  largest  scale. 

202.  A  Great  Banker  and  His  Business.  —  The  highest 
classes  of  these  argentarii  are  men  whom  the  Emperor  will 
gladly  consult  if  the  Parthians  break  loose  in  an  expensive 
war,  or  great  public  works  have  to  be  undertaken  in  Africa. 
They  are  strictly  under  government  supervision,  their  business 
honor  is  high  and  bankruptcy  is  a  great  disgrace. 

On  this  day  in  question  Calvus  must  needs  visit  his  own 
personal  banker,  Sextus  Herrenius  Probus,  head  of  the  firm 
of  the  Probi,  one  of  the  oldest  houses  on  the  Via  Sacra. 
Probus  is  an  eques,  though  his  wealth  surpasses  that  of  most 
senators.  His  father  helped  such  personages  as  the  philoso- 
pher Seneca  to  make  and  to  manage  their  huge  fortunes,  but 
the  real  origin  of  the  firm  went  back  to  Augustus's  settlement 
of  Egypt,  when  the  successful  liquidation  of  the  royal  estates 
of  Cleopatra  provided  enormous  and  lawful  commissions. 
Probus  now  is  practically  the  custodian  of  many  of  the  noblest 
patrimonies  in  Rome.  He  is  all  the  time  consulted  concern- 
ing investments,  and  Calvus  has  particularly  desired  to-day  to 
ask  whether  his  own  freedmen  are  wise  in  urging  their  patron 
(acting,  of  course,  through  themselves  as  middlemen)  to  put 
300,000  sesterces  into  a  transaction  in  Arabian  frankincense. 

Banks,  Shops,  and  Inns      229 

Probus,  of  course,  runs  a  regular  banking  business.  Be- 
sides several  junior  partners  he  has  a  great  corps  of  clerks, 
some  freedmen,  and  some  slaves.  His  office  has  all  the  signs 
of  a  well-ordered  commercial  establishment.  Every  item 
of  his  business  is  entered  in  an  elaborate  system  of  ledgers, 
which  are  regularly  brought  into  court  as  the  most  reliable 
kind  of  evidence. 

Such  a  banker  issues  bills  of  exchange  on  correspondents  in 
such  places  as  Athens,  Alexandria,  Antioch,  Lugdunum, 
Gades,  and  even  on  distant  Londinium  in  Britain.  Money  is 
deposited  with  him,  then  withdrawn  by  personal  checks 
(perscriptio)  in  a  manner  very  familiar  to  another  age.  On 
long-time  deposits  he  pays  interest;  and,  of  course,  he  is 
always  loaning  money  for  long  or  short  terms  on  what  seems 
good  security. 

On  the  day  that  Calvus  comes  to  him  Probus  has  just 
loaned  200,000  sesterces  on  a  mortgage  on  a  well-rented 
insula,  at  the  standard  rate  of  12  per  cent ;  and  also  a  sum  to 
a  merchant  planning  a  trading  voyage  to  Spain  at  the  heavier 
rate  of  24  per  cent  until  the  ships  are  safe  in  harbor.1  Probus, 
too,  exchanges  foreign  moneys  at  a  fair  commission,  although 
by  the  reign  of  Hadrian  the  coinage  of  all  the  Mediterranean 
world  has  become  decidedly  Romanized;  one  seldom  now 
has  to  change  drachmas  and  shekels  into  sesterces  and  aurei 
(gold  pieces),  although  the  old  Grseco-Oriental  coins  have 
not  quite  disappeared. 

203.  Trust  Business:  Savings  Banks. — Besides  its 
strictly  banking  business  Probus's  firm  also  does  much  that 
could  at  another  time  be  referred  to  a  "  Trust  Company." 
It  makes  sales  or  purchases  for  its  clients,  undertakes  to  close 

1  12  per  cent  (one  per  cent  per  month)  was  the  lawful  and  normal  rate 
of  interest.  Greater  Interest  could  be  demanded  on  risky  ventures, 
especially  those  by  sea.  Rates  of  36  and  48  per  cent,  heard  of  under  the 
Later  Republic,  were  excessive,  and  usually  unlawful. 

230  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

up  estates,  attends  to  legal  business,  collects  debts,  and  above 
all  conducts  auctions  of  large  quantities  of  goods  in  the  most 
responsible  manner  possible.  Somewhat  on  the  side  the  firm 
also  maintains  several  small  savings  banks  to  attract  the 
sesterces  of  the  humble. 

These  modest  savings  institutions,  paying  the  depositors  a 
fair  interest,  are  numerous  all  over  the  city ;  and  such  con- 
cerns also  make  loans  for  small  sums  on  chattel  mortgages  — 
in  short,  doing  a  business  that  is  sometimes  highly  legitimate, 
sometimes  griping  and  usurious.  Probus's  savings  banks, 
like  many  others,  are  intrusted  to  slave  managers  (institu- 
tores)  who  are  expected  to  invest  then*  own  peculiwm  in  the 
business  to  insure  their  watchfulness  and  honesty.  The 
management  of  such  small  establishments  is  naturally  held 
in  little  social  esteem,  and  the  heads  of  Probus  and  Com- 
pany affect  to  ignore  their  savings  banks  just  as  much  as 
possible,  although  the  gains  from  them  are,  perhaps,  almost 
as  great  as  from  the  dealings  with  the  lofty  Clarissimi  of  the 

204.  Places  of  Safe  Deposit :   The  Temple  of  Vesta.  — 

At  all  the  banks  there  are  very  strong  brass-bound  treasure 
boxes  carefully  guarded  and  protected  by  elaborate  locks. 
These  boxes  if  not  actually  "  safe  deposit  vaults  "  can  defy 
any  ordinary  burglars.  However,  objects  of  great  value, 
caskets  of  jewels,  large  sums  of  bullion,  and  the  like,  can  be 
deposited  in  the  Temple  of  Castor  at  the  Old  Forum,  where 
(under  the  double  sanctions  of  law  and  religion)  the  govern- 
ment undertakes  their  storage  for  a  moderate  fee.  There  is 
also  a  second  government  deposit  vault  at  the  Temple  of 
Mars  Ultor  on  the  Augustan  Forum,  but  this  unfortunately 
"lost  its  helmet"  (i.e.  its  reputation  for  inviolability)  when 
it  was  successfully  entered  by  burglars  some  years  ago. 

There  exists,  however,  a  still  safer  place  than  the  Temple 
of  Castor,  although  obviously  it  can  only  give  room  to  pro- 

Banks,  Shops,  and  Inns 


tect  very  small  packets  and  highly  precious  documents.  The 
Vestal  Virgins  in  their  House  of  Vesta,  sacrosanct  and  abso- 
lutely guarded,  have  now  in  their  keeping  the  wills  of  half  of 
the  Senators  and  of  many  other  distinguished  men.  There 
they  are  safe  from  tampering  not  merely  by  common  crimi- 
nals, but  by  designing  heirs 
and  even  by  greedy  Em- 
perors; but  this  service,  of 
course,  is  only  at  the  dis- 
posal of  the  aristocracy. 

205.  Inns :  Usually  Mean 
and  Sordid.  —  The  very  na- 
ture of  a  city  like  Rome 
presupposes  an  enormous 
floating  population.  The 
metropolis  is  always  full  of 
strangers.  The  more  dis- 
tinguished of  these  almost 
inevitably  find  hospitality 
at  least  as  "  paying  guests  " 
in  some  private  quarters,  so 
that  large  hotels  for  the  gen- 
try are  almost  non-existent ; 
and  as  stated  (p.  112)  the 
universal  custom  of  either  dining  at  home  or  being  a  dinner 
guest  of  friends  largely  obviates  the  need  of  luxurious  restau- 
rants. But  all  visitors  cannot  command  noble  hospitality ; 
and  many  a  plebeian,  freedman,  or  slave  cannot  go  home 
from  his  work  either  to  the  noon-time  prandium  or  to  the 
regular  evening  dinner.  Besides  there  are  plenty  of  loose 
fellows  who  desire  congenial  places  for  tippling  and  carous- 
ing. The  result  is  that  Rome  is  provided  with  inns  and  with 
eating  houses ;  although  nearly  all  of  both  types  are  sordid 
and  held  in  little  aristocratic  favor. 


A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

The  inns  (tabernce)  usually  combine  the  reception  of 
travelers  with  the  providing  of  meals  for  chance  visitors. 
Since  driving  in  the  city  is  seldom  permitted,  nearly  all 
wagons  have  to  unload  near  the  gates,  and  around  these  there 

GATEWAY  AT  POMPEII  :  present  state.  Note  the  small  entrance  for  foot 
passengers,  available  after  the  main  gate  for  beasts  and  wagons  has  been 

is  a  perfect  sprinkling  of  inns  primarily  for  the  accommodation 
of  teamsters. 

A  few  of  these  establishments  are  very  large  but  the  most 
are  decidedly  small.  Take  for  example  the  "  Inn  of  Hercu- 
les," just  outside  the  Porta  Capena,  where  the  Appian  Way 
commences.  It  is  kept  by  one  Proxenus,  a  sly-eyed,  strong- 
limbed  fellow,  who  pretends  he  is  an  Athenian  Greek,  but 
who  probably  comes  from  somewhere  much  nearer  the 
Orient.  His  inn  stands  side  by  side  with  a  number  of  com- 
petitors, all  much  alike.  There  is  a  broad  entrance  through 

Banks,  Shops,  and  Inns      233 

which  wagons  can  drive ;  and  on  either  side  of  this  passage 
are  rooms,  one  for  the  proprietor's  personal  use,  the  others 
for  serving  meals,  drinking,  and  idling.  On  the  walls  are 
coarse  frescos,  showing  besides  the  Lares  (the  serpent 
Genius  of  the  place,  and  the  god  Hercules)  views  of  the  wine 
trade,  perhaps  of  a  man  pouring  wine  from  a  large  jar  into  a 
still  larger  earthen  hogshead.  In  the  rear  of  these  rooms 
there  is  a  fairly  large  court  for  wagons,  a  stable,  and  a  water- 
ing trough.  Near  these  are  three  small  chambers  for  team- 
sters who  have  to  sleep  near  their  beasts ;  but  most  of  the 
guests  are  accommodated  in  small,  dirty  cubicles  in  the  story 
above  the  wine-rooms. 

206.  Reckonings  and  Guests  at  a  Ch«ap  Inn.  —  Proxenus 
is  not  more  filthy  or  extortionate  than  the  majority  of  his 
kind.  He  takes  it  as  part  of  his  perquisites  to  hear  his 
tavern  cursed  as  "  dirty/'  "  smoky,"  "  vermin  infested  "  — 
or  things  much  worse,  and  laughs  heartily  when  he  finds  that 
a  departing  guest  has  scratched  upon  the  walls  of  his  sleeping 
chamber  such  doggerel  verses  as 

"  Landlord,  may  your  lies  malign 

Bring  destruction  on  your  head  I 
You,  yourself  drink  unmixed  wine 
Water  sell  your  guests  instead !" l 

He  can  at  least  claim  that  his  ordinary  charges  are  moder- 
ate. His  regular  bill  to  a  driver  is  likely  to  be : 

"Bread  and  a  pint  of  wine  1  as; 
Meat  dish  2  asses; 

Mule  provender  2  asses; 

Night  accommodation         2  asses." 

The  bronze  as  is  hardly  more  than  2  cents ;  and  the  whole 
charge,  including  the  mule,  is  thus  about  14  cents  later-day 
reckoning.  The  real  profit,  however,  comes  when  for  example 

1  These  verses  are  from  the  wall  of  an  inn  in  Pompeii,  and  the  fore- 
going description  is  that  of  an  actual  Pompeian  inn. 

234  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

a  burly  soldier  off  duty  tramps  in  with  his  hob-nailed  boots, 
swings  back  his  military  cloak,  and  orders,  "  Come,  mine 
host  (copus),  some  really  good  wine  with  a  little  water ! " 
If  congenial  spirits,  male  and  female,  are  now  ready,  such 
may  be  the  beginning  of  a  long  sousing  evening,  when  the 
dice  will  clatter  furiously  and  the  soldier  will  awake  in  the 
morning  with  not  one  sesterces  in  his  pouch. 

207.  Noble  Frequenters  of  Taverns.  —  Sometimes  Proxe- 
nus  rejoices  in  still  more  exalted  company.  Certain  fast 
young  nobles  enjoy  "  doing  the  rounds  "  of  low  taverns ; 
and  the  Inn  of  Hercules  has  fairly  regular  visitors  of  this  very 
profitable  type.  When  Proxenus  sees  Gnseus  Lollius, 
Gratia's  black  sheep  of  a  cousin,  entering,  he  makes  haste  to 
anoint  his  own  locks  with  pungent  musk,  and  runs  to  greet 
his  visitor  as  *  Dominus  7  and  *  Rex/  —  while  the  young 
profligate,  boasting  that  he  has  come  to  enjoy  a  perfect 
"  Liberty  Hall  "  (asgua  libertus),  commands  the  host  at  once 
to  call  in  all  the  loose  rascals  in  the  neighborhood  and  in- 
sists that  they  drink  with  him  from  the  same  goblet.  At 
last  they  are  all  sprawling  about  the  tavern,  the  noble 
Lollius  "  cheek  by  jowl  with  cut-throats,  bargees,  thieves, 
runaway  slaves,  hangmen,  and  coffin  makers." l 

All  Rome  has  been  laughing  in  loyal  glee  at  the  retort  in 
verse  which  the  clever  Hadrian  has  just  made  to  a  certain 
Floras,  who  wrote  some  lines  saying  "  he  would  rather  not 
be  Caesar"  because  the  latter  was  always  gadding  off  to 
outlandish  places.  Florus  is  notoriously  a  frequenter  of  all- 
night  taverns,  and  the  Emperor  instead  of  imitating  Nero 
and  sending  him  a  centurion  witt  a  death  message,  has  hit 
back  roundly : 

"Florus  would  I  never  be, 
Now  a-tramp  to  taverns  he, 
Sulking  now  in  cook-shops  see, 
Victim  of  the  wicked  flea ! ' ' 

1  This  scene  is  a  familiar  one  from  Juvenal. 

Banks,  Shops,  and  Inns 


208.  Respectable  Eating-Houses.  —  But  not  all  people 
are  teamsters  seeking  a  lodging,  or  rascals  seeking  a  carouse. 
Honest  hard-working  men  and  women  must  buy  their  meals 
every  day.  The  simplest  method,  if  you  care  nothing  for 

CHEAP  GROCERY  AND  COOK-SHOP.    After  Von  Falke. 

appearances,  is  to  halt  before  one  of  the  cooks  who  station 
themselves  in  the  open  street  with  caldrons  over  small 
charcoal  fires.  At  the  end  of  copper  sticks  they  attach  little 
cups  with  which  they  bring  up  boiled  peas,  or  some  form  of 
stew  to  be  eaten  on  the  spot.  Of  better  grade  are  the 

236  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

caupon(B  (eating-houses) ;  these  are  ordinarily  arranged  with 
a  long  counter  open  to  the  street  whereon  is  arrayed  a  tempt- 
ing display  of  dainties,  and  above  this  are  marble  shelves 
set  with  cups  and  glasses.  We  see  also  a  place  for  heating 
liquids  over  a  charcoal  fire. 

On  going  inside  a  typical  restaurant,  one  comes  to  a  long 
room  filled  with  small  tables  and  backless  stools  for  the  use 
of  the  guests.  The  walls  are  covered  with  tolerable  frescos 
showing  scenes  of  eating  and  drinking,  while  from  the  ceiling 
dangle  strings  of  sausages,  hams,  and  other  eatables.  Really 
good  meals  can  be  ordered  here,  also  good  wine  at  reasonable 
prices.  Most  of  the  guests  are  honest,  quiet  tradesmen  who 
go  about  their  business,  and  every  sign  of  a  brawl  is  promptly 
repressed.  When  two  youths  in  servile  dress  begin  to  ex- 
change blows  over  a  cast  of  dice,  the  strong-armed  pro- 
prietor promptly  gives  them  a  push  toward  the  door  with 
the  firm  injunction,  "  Please  fight  outside."  * 

209.  Thermopolia  —  "  Hot-Drink  Establishments."  — 
Such  places  are  genuine  restaurants  where  more  attention 
is  given  to  the  food  than  to  the  beverages.  Hardly  any 
eating-house,  however,  can  really  be  popular  unless  it  does 
business  also  as  a  thermopolium,  a  "hot-drink  establish- 
ment." Coffee  and  tea  are  unknown;  but  hard-working 
folk  around  the  city  find  calda  very  refreshing  especially  after 
the  toil  of  the  morning.  Calda  is  a  kind  of  diluted  wine  mixed 
with  spices  and  aromatic  herbs,  and  heated  up  into  a  sort  of 
negus.  It  is  in  constant  demand.  In  fact  a  cup  of  calda  and 
a  little  bread  and  peas  make  up  the  average  poor  laborer's 
luncheon;  therefore  the  samovar  (wuthepsa)  is  continually 
steaming  in  all  the  Roman  eating-houses. 

Needless  to  say  most  inns  and  even  the  better  restaurants 
enjoy  such  an  evil  reputation  among  the  high  and  mighty 
that  the  latter  never  frequent  them  save,  as  does  Lollius,  for 

1  Another  scene  taken  from  an  actual  bas-relief  and  inscription. 

Banks,  Shops,  and  Inns      237 

the  naughty  "  experience."  Even  when  traveling  through 
Italy,  so  general  is  the  custom  of  extending  hospitality,  that 
only  rarely  will  a  great  man  like  Calvus  have  to  lodge  with 
his  retinue  at  an  inn.  The  result  is  that  country  inns  are 
hardly  more  select  than  those  in  the  city,  with  sometimes 
the  additional  reputation  of  being  the  holds  of  unabashed 
robbers.  Ladies  and  gentlemen,  and  even  their  more  fas- 
tidious slaves,  groan  when  they  have  to  put  up  at  country 
taverns,  and  what  Cicero,  Horace,  Propertius,  and  other 
writers  have  thought  of  inns  and  inn-keepers  has  passed 
into  literary  history. 





210.  Industrial  Quarters  by  the  Tiber.  —  We  have  said 
that  Rome  was  not  primarily  an  industrial  or  commercial 
city.     A  million  and  a  half  people  cannot,  however,  exist 
without  a  great  deal  of  local  manufacturing  and  an  elabo- 
rate  organization   for  importing  staples  and   luxuries.     If 
we  go  down  the  Vicus  Tuscus  or  some  other  streets  leading 
near  the  Tiber  and  toward  the  southern  part  of  the  city, 
the  fine  mansions  grow  fewer,  the  insulse   become    more 
squalid,  and  even  these  last  are  interspersed  with  dingy 
structures  of  concrete  which  by  the  noise  and  smells  proceed- 
ing thence  are  obviously  factories. 

These  industrial  plants  are  for  the  most  part  small  accord- 
ing to  the  standards  of  another  age ;  there  is  also  a  marked 
absence  of  complicated  machinery  and  a  conspicuous  de- 
pendence simply  on  patient  man-power ;  but  some  establish- 
ments are  really  on  a  great  scale.  The  noble  House  of 
Afer,  for  example,  has  a  practical  monopoly  of  the  brick 
industry.1  Its  products  are  used  all  over  the  city,  as  may  be 
proved  by  the  name  stamped  on  almost  every  brick,  and  in 
the  Afer  yards  and  kilns  are  employed  several  thousands  of 
slaves  and  free  workers. 

211.  Conditions  of  Industrial  Labor.  —  Slave  labor  has 
crowded  free  labor  hard  but  has  not  actually  destroyed  it. 
You  can  never  get  quite  the  same  efficiency  from  a  "  speak- 

1  Marcus  Auretfus  belonged  to  this  rich  family  on  his  mother's  side. 


Industry  and  Commerce  289 

ing  tool  "  as  from  a  man  to  whom  life  affords  honest  prospects. 
Furthermore,  the  supply  of  slaves  is  unsteady.  While  the 
legions  were  overrunning  helpless  kingdoms,  it  was  easy 
enough  to  buy  a  hundred  more  hands  for  your  pottery  works 
or  metal  factory;  but  now  the  campaigns  of  Trajan  (the 
last  period,  it  will  prove,  of  the  great  conquests)  are  over. 
There  are  barely  enough  prisoners  in  the  slave  market  at 
present  to  provide  a  fair  supply  of  servants. 

There  are  other  drawbacks  to  servile  labor :  though  a  slave 
worker  cannot  "  strike  "  against  terms  of  employment,  his 
employer  cannot  cease  to  feed  and  clothe  him  during  slack 
times,  when  he  will  gladly  lay  off  free  labor.  As  a  result 
the  average  industry  employs  slaves  and  free  men  side  by 
side;  the  latter  are  a  little  more  self-sufficient,  but  seem- 
ingly they  do  not  object  to  having  slaves  as  fellow  workmen. 
In  any  case  the  hours  of  labor  are  long  and  the  conditions 
hard.  A  denarius  (16  cents)  is  apparently  wages  enough  to 
provide  an  artisan  with  a  few  rooms  in  a  dingy  insula  and  to 
keep  his  wife  and  children  from  starvation  —  especially  if 
they  can  get  the  government  grain  doles;  greater  reward 
he  dares  seldom  to  demand. 

212.  Great  Trade  through  Ostia  and  the  Campanian 
Ports.  —  But  Rome,  as  stated,  imports  more  articles  than 
she  manufactures.  The  commerce  from  the  interior  of  Italy, 
down  the  Tiber  and  along  the  main  roads  from  the  north, 
the  Via  Cassia  and  the  Via  Flaminia,  is  not  of  first  impor- 
tance—  mostly  garden  produce,  stone,  and  timber.  Not  so 
that  from  Ostia,  the  harbor  town,  or  that  coming  by  the 
famous  southern  highways,  the  Via  Appia  and  the  Via 
Latina.  Navigation  along  the  Italian  coast  to  Ostia  has 
its  dangerous  features,  and  a  great  many  merchants  try  to 
unlade  at  such  south-Latin  ports  as  Antium  or  preferably 
at  the  busy  harbor  of  Puteoli  in  Campania.  The  result  is 
that  the  southern  roads  are  often  black  with  great  trains  of 

£40  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

heavy  wagons  bumping  over  the  hard  pavement  all  the  hun- 
dred and  fifty  odd  miles  from  Puteoli  to  Rome.  However, 
a  very  large  fraction  of  the  entire  commerce  of  Rome  passes 
up  the  Tiber  from  Ostia,  and  is  set  down  on  those  long  ar- 
rays of  wharves  southwest  of  the  Aventine,  known  as  the 

213.  The  Emporium  and  Its  Wharves:  the  Tiber  Barges. 
—  The  Emporium  is  not  the  most  beautiful  section  of  Rome, 
but  it  is  one  of  the  most  important.  From  its  murk  and 
bustle  many  a  lordly  eques  is  swung  away  every  night  in  his 
litter  for  the  quiet,  aristocratic  Quirinal  or  Esquiline;  but 
it  is  the  Emporium  trade  which  makes  possible  his  great 
mansion  with  its  hierarchy  of  soft-footed  slaves.  To  reach 
the  Emporium  we  go  down  the  Vicus  Tuscus  past  the  upper 
end  of  the  tall  gray  masses  of  the  far-stretching  Circus 
Maximus,  then  turn  down  narrow  lanes  where  the  Aventine 
crowds  closely  toward  the  Tiber.  Immediately  the  river 
opens  before  us  with  a  scene  of  teeming  life. 

We  are  now  below  all  the  regular  bridges  and  at  the  head 
of  deep-sea  navigation.  In  truth  the  Tiber  is  too  shallow 
and  uncertain  a  river  to  be  very  practical  for  large  ships, 
even  of  the  Grseco-Roman  type.  Only  small  vessels,  mostly 
of  the  coasting  variety,  come  up  to  Rome  on  direct  voyages. 
But  the  regular  procedure  is  to  unload  the  deep-sea  craft 
at  Ostia  and  then  bring  up  their  lading  along  the  twenty  odd 
miles  of  the  crooked  river,  in  light-draft  barges.  These 
barges  —  some  worked  by  long  oars,  some  towed  by  their 
crews  walking  along  the  shore  —  are  constantly  coming  and 
going.  To-day  as  every  day  the  river  is  alive  with  them,  and 
many  others  are  moored  closely,  prow  following  stern,  all 
along  the  magnificent  stone  embankments  which  serve  as 

Approaching  one  of  these  ungainly  flat-bottomed  craft, 
we  see  it  has  a  little  cabin  on  the  poop,  and  its  name,  the  "  Isis 

Industry  and  Commerce 


of  Geminus,"  l  is  marked  in  large  red  letters  upon  the  black 
hull.  The  captain  is  now  standing  by  the  mooring  cable 
passed  through  a  sculptured  lion's  mouth,  directing  a  great 
gang  of  porters  carrying  sacks  of  grain  down  a  bank  to  the 
wharf,  where  Geminus,  the  owner  himself,  assisted  by  a 
government  clerk  carefully  checks  off  every  sack  upon 
their  bills  of  lading.  A  little  scrutiny  reveals  that  while  all 
kinds  of  commodities  abound  on  the  Emporium  two  take 


wide  precedence  over  all  others  —  grain,  from  Egypt  and  pro- 
vincial Africa ;  and  marble,  from  Numidia,  Greece,  and  Asia 

214.  The  Marble  and  Grain  Trades. —  The  marble 
trade,  indeed,  demands  a  special  section  of  the  wharves. 
For  the  government  buildings  the  imperial  procurators  in 
the  marble-producing  provinces  are  constantly  sending  in 
valuable  cargoes,  and  for  monolithic  columns  and  extra 
large  blocks  specially  constructed  barges  are  used  to  bring 
them  from  Ostia,  Even  now  a  great  labor  gang  is  painfully 

*  The  real  name  of  such  »  vessel. 

242  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

disembarking  a  splendid  column  of  Egyptian  porphyry  for 
the  new  Temple  of  Venus  and  Rome. 

Behind  the  Emporium  stretches  an  ugly  complex  of  offices, 
warehouses,  porters'  barracks,  and  the  like,  but  most  con- 
spicuous and  ugly  of  all  are  the  public  horrea.  These  are 
tall  gaunt  storehouses  for  the  keeping  of  grain,  enormous 
fabrics  of  dull  gray  concrete,  "  elevators  "  in  fact,  carefully 
maintained  by  the  government  for  the  victualing  of  the 
capital.  There  are  said  to  be  more  than  three  hundred  hor- 
rea, and  the  largest  are  named  for  the  emperors  who  built 
them  —  the  Horreum  of  Augustus,  of  Domitian,  and  the 
like.  Thousands  of  men  are  employed  around  them,  and 
the  state  of  their  contents  can  give  anxious  nights  to  the 
Imperial  Council.  Unlovely  as  they  seem,  they  are  vital 
to  the  life  of  Rome. 

It  is  no  small  task  to  provide  grain  for  so  huge  a  city,  and 
that,  too,  without  the  aid  of  railways  or  steamships.  Even 
a  top-lofty  Emperor  like  Domitian  can  fear  the  howls  of  the 
crowds  in  the  circus  if  the  price  of  wheat  becomes  high  and 
the  customary  free  distributions  are  not  forthcoming.  Hence 
these  horrea  must  be  large  enough  to  supply  a  large  margin 
against  possible  delay  in  the  annual  arrival  of  the  "  Alexan- 
drian "  or  "  African  "  fleets  on  which  the  provisioning  of  the 
capital  depends. 

215.  The  Public  Grain  Doles.  —  All  the  world  knows  that 
one  of  the  most  precious  prerogatives  of  a  plebeian  in  Rome 
is  the  right  to  receive  about  5  modii  (about  10  gallons  dry 
measure)  of  grain  every  month  at  government  charges.  Is 
it  not  only  right  that  the  wearers  of  the  toga  should  live  on  the 
bounty  of  the  subject  world  ? 

In  the  past  there  have  been,  indeed,  efforts  to  make  the 
populace  pay  part  of  the  price  of  their  grain,  with  the  govern- 
ment simply  discharging  the  balance.  This  half  measure 
has  broken  down  because  of  unpopularity.  All  that  the  au- 

Industry  and  Commerce 


thorities  can  do  now  is  to  see  that  the  list  of  recipients  is 
limited  to  genuine  citizens,  and  that  the  alien  riffraff  of  the 
great  city  is  strictly  excluded. 


There  are  now,  as  since  the  time  of  Augustus,  about  200,000 
citizens  upon  the  precious  "  Frumentary  Lists."  The  re- 
cipients are  not  paupers,  but  include  very  many  "  small 
citizens  "  of  the  worthier  kind.  It  is  an  honor  in  many  circles 
to  win  the  precious  tessera  (metal  or  bone  ticket)  entitling 

244  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

one  to  stand  in  line  at  the  numerous  grain  dispensaries  all 
over  the  city  and  get  the  monthly  allowance.1  Every  adult 
male  Roman  in  the  city  receives  this  privilege,  but  under 
some  circumstances  the  tessera  can  be  alienated.  You  hear 
of  persons  selling  theirs  or  even  bequeathing  them  by 
will ;  and  some  of  the  holders  are  thus  not  merely  f reedmen 
but  even  ex-criminals. 

216.  Distribution  of  the  Free  Bread':  Extraordinary 
Bonuses  (Congiaria  and  Donativa).  —  For  a  long  time  this 
food  has  simply  been  portioned  out  unbaked  at  the  numerous 
grain  stations  all  over  the  city ;  after  which  it  has  to  be  made 
into  bread  at  home,  or  to  be  handed  over  to  private  bakers 
who  will  return  so  many  loaves  per  measure,  deducting  a 
commission  in  kind.  There  is  a  growing  tendency,  however, 
towards  government  bakeshops  as  a  new  means  of  pampering 
the  "  Sovereign  People  "  and  towards  passing  out  the  food  in 
the  form  of  handsomely  baked  bread. 

The  custom  nevertheless  is  not  yet  universal.2  The  pri- 
vate bakeries  continue  to  flourish,  and  since  each  baker 
must  grind  his  own  flour,  no  sound  is  more  common  all 
over  the  city  than  the  rasping  of  the  millstones  worked 
either  by  long-suffering  donkeys,  blindfolded  to  keep  them 
from  eating,  or  by  the  most  recalcitrant  and  sodden  class  of 

These  distributions  of  free  grain  are  part  of  the  normal  life 
of  Rome.  Inevitably  they  multiply  the  number  of  para- 
sites, busybodies,  and  sheer  beggars.  Ever  since  Gaius 
Gracchus  started  the  evil  system,  thoughtful  men  have 
groaned  over  its  consequences,  but  all  have  been  helpless, 
and  the  demoralization  increases  when  an  Emperor,  to  insure 

1The  expression  "Sharer  in  the  Public  Grain  Doles"  appears  on 
many  tombstones  of  worthy  burghers,  to  indicate  that  they  enjoyed  the 
full  rights  of  citizenship. 

1  It  became  so  under  the  Later  Empire. 

Industry  and  Commerce 


popularity  at  the  beginning  of  his  reign,  or  to  confirm  it 
later,  orders  a  special  congiarium  to  all  the  citizens. 

This  gift  can  take  the  form  of  special  distributions  of  oil, 
wine,  and  meat  to  all  the  lucky  holders  of  the  tesserae ;  but 
presents  even  more  lavish  are  possible.  When  Trajan  died 
in  118  A.D.  and  Hadrian  was  proclaimed,  the  latter,  not  quite 

OVEN  AND  GRIST  MILL  IN  A  BAKERY.    After  Von  Falke. 

certain  of  public  favor,  put  all  the  insulse  to  roaring  in  his 
praise  by  proclaiming  a  gift  of  three  aurei  (gold  pieces  of 
$4.00  each)  to  every  "  frumentary  citizen  "  in  Rome,  What 
wonder  that  later  donativa  (bonuses)  become  necessary  at 
dangerously  frequent  intervals  to  prevent  even  the  most  loyal 
plebeians  from  praying  for  a  new  reign  1 1 

1  When  Commodus  became  Emperor  in  180  A.D.,  the  congiarium  came 
to  the  ruinous  sum  of  725  denarii  per  citizen.  This  was  $96.00  each, 
if  the  coins  were  of  full  weight  and  fineness,  which  probably  at  that 
period  they  were  not. 

246  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

217.  The  Trade  in  Sculptures  and  Portrait  Statues.  — 
But  it  is  time  to  return  to  the  region  about  the  Emporium. 
Near  the  marble  wharves  are  naturally  the  huge  establish- 
ments where  all  the  day  long  the  chip,  chip  of  many  mallets 
and  chisels  indicates  that  great  masses  of  sculptured  stone 
are  being  turned  out  —  magnificent  capitals,  pediment  groups, 
bas-reliefs  that  are  splendid  works  of  art,  for  all  the  needs  of 
the  government  buildings  and  the  mansions  of  the  wealthy. 

Many  large  concerns  devote  themselves  to  manufacturing 
single  statues,  life-size  or  miniature.  Standing  around  in 
their  courtyards  are  rows  of  sculptured  deities,  mostly  copies 
of  good  Greek  masterpieces,  representing  the  whole  host  of 
Olympus  from  Jupiter  down  to  the  inferior  demigods ;  there 
are  also  numerous  statues  displaying  orators  posing  in  their 
togas,  magistrates  in  then*  official  robes,  and  generals  in  their 
armor,  but  with  the  f eatures  left  in  the  rough  —  to  be  fin- 
ished up  on  order  at  short  notice  to  adorn  some  atrium  or 
small-town  forum. 

A  great  array  of  statues  of  the  Emperor  are  also  kept  in 
stock.  These  are  needed  in  every  government  building,  and 
the  demand  is  constant;  but  it  must  be  admitted  that 
Hadrian's  handsome  bearded  features  are  often  outrageously 
distorted  by  the  careless  journeymen,  so  that  loyal  folk  pro- 
test even  as  does  the  governor  of  Pontus,  Arrianus,  who  has 
just  written  his  master,  "  Your  statue  at  Trapezus  [on  the 
Euxine]  is  beautifully  placed,  but  it  is  not  the  least  like  you. 
Please  send  on  another  at  once  from  Rome  I  " 

Special  markets  and  warehouses  also  exist  for  almost 
every  other  major  commodity.  Near  the  Circus  Maximus 
there  is  the  noisy,  fetid  cattle  market  where  horses,  kine, 
and  asses  change  hands  amid  coarse  chaffering  very  much  as 
in  the  trade  for  slaves.  There  are  likewise  great  repositories 
for  oil,  flax,  lumber,  wool,  spices,  etc.  —  some  private,  some 
under  government  supervision ;  the  clang  from  all  kinds  of 

Industry  and  Commerce 


smithies  and  metal  workshops  is  incessant,  and  the  factories 
for  manufacturing  bronze  statues  are  almost  as  large  as  those 
for  the  stone  sculptures. 

218.  The  Tiber  Trip  to  Ostia :  the  Merchant  Shipping.  — 
If,  however,  one  would  learn  the  real  sum  of  Roman  industry 
and  commerce,  it  is  needful  to  charter  a  slim  swiftly-pulling 


Main  Roads 

wherry  and  to  glide  down  the  yellow  Tiber  to  Ostia.  All  the 
way  the  craft  has  to  dodge  the  enormous  barges,  but  the 
shores  are  covered  with  delightful  villas,  small  villages,  or 
with  prosperous  farms  raising  poultry,  flowers,  vegetables, 
and  the  like  for  the  city  trade.  In  the  distance  across  the 
level  campagna  can  be  seen  the  impressive  array  of  the  solemn 
arches  of  the  great  aqueducts,  reaching  back  into  the  hills 
and  bringing  their  supply  of  pure  water  to  Rome.  Ostia 
itself,  however,  is  strictly  a  harbor  town,  with  an  elaborate 

248  A  Day  in  Old  Rom- 

series  of  breakwaters,  dredged  basins,  naval  docks,  mercantile 
docks,  and  a  perfect  jumble  of  shipping. 

The  vessels  have  come  from  all  parts  of  the  Mediterranean, 
and  there  is  even  a  battered  trader  that  has  coasted  all  the 
way  from  Britain  with  a  cargo  of  tin  ore.  The  smaller  craft 
can  trust  sometimes  to  their  oars  in  a  calm,  but  all  the  larger 
must  depend  on  their  unwieldy  lateen  sails  which  swing  from 
two  or  three  long  yards  crossing  as  many  masts. 

By  far  the  largest  merchantmen  are  the  Egyptian  corn 
ships,  and  one  of  these,  that  is  just  being  moved  to  the  quay 
by  a  gang  of  shouting  half-naked  stevedores,  is  of  somewhat 
unusual  size.  We  are  informed  she  is  fully  180  feet  long  and 
45  feet  in  beam.1  She  is  provided  with  elaborate  and  decid- 
edly comfortable  cabins  for  many  passengers,  so  that  it  is 
easy  to  believe  the  story  that  when  the  Jew  Paullus  (pre- 
viously mentioned)  on  his  compulsory  trip  to  Rome  was 
wrecked  off  Malta,  276  persons  were  rescued  from  the  Alex- 
andrian merchantman  whereon  he  and  his  guards  had  em- 

219.  Imperial  Naval  Vessels.  —  At  Ostia,  too,  can  be 
seen  a  few  triremes  of  the  Imperial  Navy.  Enemies  to  the 
Roman  dominion  have  practically  disappeared  from  the  seas, 
but  there  is  still  a  certain  danger  of  pirates  or  local  insurrec- 
tion ;  therefore,  although  the  clumsy  four-  and  five-bankers  of 
the  Punic  War  periods  disappeared  soon  after  the  battle  of 
Actium,  small  patrol  squadrons  of  swift  triremes,  pulling 
about  170  oars,  or  of  smaller  craft  are  maintained  by  the 
government.  These  ships  are  extremely  like  the  Athenian 
triremes  of  the  golden  age  of  Greece  and  call  for  no  special 
description  here.2  The  Romans  are  not  naturally  a  sea- 
faring people.  Nearly  all  the  larger  merchant  ships  are 
manned  if  not  owned  by  Greeks  or  Levantines ;  and  it  has 

1  Figures  given  by  Lucian  for  a  craft  of  this  type. 

2  See  "A  Day  in  Old  Athens,"  pp.  125-134. 

Industry  and  Commerce  249 

been  with  real  satisfaction  that  the  Emperors  have  felt  that 
they  could  allow  their  navy  to  dwindle  down  to  insignificance. 
With  the  army,  as  will  be  seen,  things  are  very  different.1 

220.  The  Harbor  Town  of  Ostia.  —  Ostia  has  all  the  ac- 
companiments of  a  busy  port:   a  great  mass   of   squalid 
lodging-houses  for  sailors,  innumerable  taverns  overrun  with 
dirty  loiterers  of  both  sexes,  a  great  many  uncouth  faces 
along  the  quays,  ear-ringed  Syrians,  and  even  quaintly  jab- 
bering negroes.    There  are,  however,  some  good  houses  for 
the  rich  merchants  and  directors  of  the  shipping,  and  a  forum 
flanked  with  handsome  temples  and  government  buildings 
befitting  the  harbor  town  of  the  Mistress  of  the  World. 

In  the  outskirts  of  Ostia  one  can  quickly  get  out  into  de- 
lightful country  stretching  all  along  the  seashore.  The 
villas  of  city  magnates  look  forth  upon  the  blue  Tyrrhenian 
Sea,  or  are  bowered  in  lush  groves  surrounded  by  rich  gardens 
and  fruitful  orchards.  The  melons  raised  around  Ostia  are 
in  demand  by  every  epicure  in  the  capital.  Who  can  believe 
a  prophecy  that  this  active  bustling  port,  with  its  enormous 
shipping,  and  all  these  villas,  groves,  and  gardens  will  some 
day  vanish  like  a  dream,  and  that  Ostia  will  lie  in  a  desolate 
fever-stricken  country,  —  with  hardly  a  house  in  sight  along 
the  deserted  shores,  and  with  the  harbor  town  of  the  Eternal 
City  reduced  itself  to  a  few  miserable  cabins  ? 

221.  The  Roman  Guilds  (Collegia).  —  Ere  turning  one's 
glance  from  the  economic  life  of  Rome  it  is  needful  to  regard 
the  organization  of  industry.    Nearly  all  free  workmen  are 
members  of  "  guilds  "  (collegia)  which  nominally  exist  for  the 
purpose  of  worshiping  some  patron  deity ;  thus  the  bakeries 
are  the  special  votaries  of  Vesta  the  hearth  goddess,  the  fullers 

1  There  was  practically  no  naval  warfare  worth  mentioning  in  the  whole 
course  of  Roman  history  from  the  battle  of  Actium  (31  B.C.)  to  323  A.D., 
when  considerable  naval  fighting  took  place  at  the  time  Constantino 
captured  Byzantium  from  his  rival  Licinius. 

250  A  Day  in  Old  Borne 

of  Minerva  the  protectress  of  wool-working,  the  smiths  of 
Vulcan,  and  so  with  others. 

These  "  colleges  "  are  not  labor  unions  for  the  protection  of 
the  wage-earners  against  exploitation ;  they  are  more  like  the 
guilds  that  are  to  be  developed  in  the  Middle  Ages.  The  chief 
members  are  the  employing  "  masters,"  and  paid  journey- 
men and  apprentices  have  little  share  in  the  control  of  the 
organization.  However,  most  industries  hi  Rome  are  on  so 
small  a  scale  and  the  situation  is  so  complicated  by  the  com- 
petition of  slave  labor  that  the  friction  between  wage-earners 
and  their  employers  seldom  becomes  dangerously  acute. 

The  trade  guilds  are  carefully  watched  by  the  government 
lest  they  become  the  hotbeds  of  sedition  and  disturbing 
intrigue,1  on  the  other  hand  their  existence  is  often  useful  in 
helping  to  mobilize  industry  in  behalf  of  the  army  and  to  keep 
up  the  public  works  in  general. 

They  have  a  fairly  tight  organization,  with  their  own  offi- 
cials, "  prsetors  "  and  "  presidents,"  and  the  like,  and  the 
election  to  such  a  post  by  one's  fellow  craftsmen  is  no  slight 
honor.  The  guilds,  too,  have  their  special  corporate  prop- 
erty; and  many  of  them  possess  elaborate  guild  halls  for 
their  feasts  and  meetings. 

222.  Very  Ancient  Guilds:  the  Flute-Blowers.  —  Some 
of  the  colleges  are  of  decidedly  recent  origin,  but  eight  of 
them  boast  that  their  history  goes  back  to  the  very  early 
days  of  Home.  These  are  the  fullers,  cobblers,  carpenters, 
goldsmiths,  coppersmiths,  dyers,  potters,  and  last  but  not 
least,  the  flute-blowers,  so  important  at  funerals  and  all 
public  festivals. 

From  the  "  good  old  times  "  come  many  quaint  stories 
about  these  guilds,  and  everybody  remembers  especially  the 
tale  concerning  the  flute-blowers.  About  314  B.C.  the  cen- 

1  As  at  Ephesus  where  Demetrius  used  the  guild  of  the  silversmiths  to 
start  his  riot  against  St.  Paul.  (Acts,  19 : 25.) 

Industry  and  Commerce  251 

sors  saw  fit  to  forbid  these  somewhat  riotous  and  irregular 
gentry  from  joining  in  the  sacred  banquets  to  Jupiter  in 
which  they  had  formerly  participated.  In  anger  the  whole 
college  struck  and  retired  in  dudgeon  to  the  friendly  city  of 
Tibur.  Soon  the  Senate  found  it  difficult  to  conduct  the 
religious  rites  properly  without  the  aid  of  the  flute-players, 
and  endeavored  to  cajole  them  home,  but  the  strikers  had 
found  their  fare  and  quarters  in  Tibur  very  pleasant  and  re- 
fused any  reasonable  terms.  The  people  of  Tibur,  however, 
wearied  of  their  guests  and  to  get  rid  of  them  gave  the  whole 
corporation  a  generous  banquet,  during  which  all  the  members 
became  so  drunk  that  they  could  be  loaded  into  wagons, 
trundled  back  to  Rome  and  then  laid  down  in  a  helpless  stupor 
in  the  very  Forum.  The  next  morning  the  entire  guild  awoke, 
rubbed  its  collective  eyes  and  found  a  vast  crowd  of  jeering 
friends  pressing  around.  The  result  was  an  honorable  com- 
promise. The  censors  relented,  and  the  flute-players,  in  re- 
turn for  giving  solemn  attention  to  their  religious  duties,  were 
awarded  the  right  to  three  days  of  high  carnival,  with  songs, 
dances,  and  every  kind  of  coarse  gayety. 

223.  Importance  of  the  Guilds.  —  The  complete  list  of  the 
guilds  is  very  long.  Besides  those  mentioned,  among  the 
more  prominent  are  the  barbers,  perfumers,  fruit  sellers,  gar- 
ment cutters,  pack  carriers,  mule  drivers,  gig  drivers,  and 
fishermen,  not  to  mention  the  great  guild  of  the  bakers. 
There  is  as  yet  no  formal  compulsion  upon  a  craftsman  to 
join  a  college,  but  in  fact  any  "  non-union  "  workman  is  sub- 
ject to  discrimination  and  sabotage  which  make  his  life 
unhappy.  Cases  are  known  of  funerals  being  halted  amid 
an  unseemly  scuffle  when  a  non-member  of  the  guild  of  bier- 
carriers  has  been  discovered  helping  to  carry  the  litter  for 
the  dead. 

Certain  crafts  have  perforce  to  be  distributed  all  over 
the  city  but  inevitably  fellow  guildsmen  like  to  flock  to- 

252  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

gether.  In  the  industrial  quarters  each  craft  tries  to  con- 
centrate upon  a  certain  street  which  is  then  called  by  its 
name.  Well  known  is  the  case  of  how  Catiline's  gang  had 
its  rendezvous  at  Marcus  Lsecas's  house  on  Scythemaker's 
Street.  There  is  no  annual  "  labor  day  "  when  all  the  guild 
members  of  the  city  hold  festival  together.  On  the  contrary 
each  college  has  its  own  separate  festival,  when  the  united 
craft  is  entitled  to  parade  through  Rome  with  horns,  pipes, 
cymbals,  and  gaudy  banners;  its  officers  appearing  in 
the  guise  of  magistrates.  The  whole  company  with  their 
families  ordinarily  head  for  the  outskirts,  where,  beside  con- 
venient temples  and  hospitable  taverns,  the  good  people  can 
spread  themselves  for  picnics  under  the  trees,  join  in  vulgar 
dances,  and  very  often  spend  the  night  under  improvised 
tents  of  leaves  —  everybody  sleeping  the  sounder  because 
of  much  strong  wine. 

224.  Multitude  of  Beggars.  —  To  these  honest  plebeians 
must  be  added  another  less  noble  multitude.  Rome  literally 
swarms  with  beggars.  The  parasitical  habits  taught  by 
slavery  and  by  the  grain  doles  go  far  to  make  begging  some- 
what respectable.  At  every  turn  you  can  run  on  whining 
wretches  often  repulsively  mutilated  in  order  to  excite  sym- 
pathy. They  have  their  regular  stand,  however,  upon  the 
bridges,  where  they  crouch  on  dirty  mats  shouting  their 
"  da!  da!  "  "  Give !  Give !  "  and  at  the  gates  where  trav- 
elers take  or  leave  their  carriages  they  are  thicker  than  the 
flies.  Near  Ostia  and  along  the  Emporium  may  also  be 
seen  real  or  pretended  sailors  escaped  from  shipwreck,  identifi- 
able by  their  heads,  which  are  shaven  because  of  vows  made  in 
peril,  and  who  hold  out  their  caps  for  coppers  while  "delight- 
ing in  garrulous  ease  to  tell  the  story  of  their  perils/' 

Downright  thieves,  professional  robbers,  and  petty  pil- 
ferers are  held  in  reasonable  restraint  by  the  active  police, 
but  the  absence  of  street  lights  makes  it  risky  business  to 

Industry  and  Commerce  25S 

go  about  after  dark  without  torches  and  a  good  escort.  Seri- 
ous burglaries  are  often  reported,  and  every  now  and  then  the 
body  is  found  of  some  wayfarer  who  was  stabbed  while  resist- 
ing a  hold-up.  As  for  certain  districts  going  down  the  river 
toward  Ostia,  or  along  the  Via  Appia  toward  the  Pomptine 
Marshes,  their  -reputation  is  so  bad  that  even  in  daylight 
a  company  of  armed  slaves  is  desirable. 



225.  The  Fora,  the  Centers  of  Roman  Life.  —  Hitherto 
in  our  prolonged  "  day  "  in  Rome  we  have  carefully  avoided 
visiting  those  famous  quarters  or  buildings  which  are  the 
glory  of  the  imperial  city.  These  can  only  take  on  true  sig- 

GENERAL  VIEW  OF  OLD  FORUM  AND  CAPITOL  :   a  simplified  restoration. 

nificance  when  we  have  first  seen  the  ordinary  life  of  rich  and 
poor.  It  is  now  time,  however,  to  visit  the  "  Heart  of  Rome  " 
—  the  splendid  system  of  fora  in  that  great  hollow  where 
five  of  the  "  Seven  Hills  "  almost  come  together  just  north  of 
the  Palatine,  and  then  to  visit  the  Palatine  itself  with  its 
abodes  of  official  majesty. 

The  renowned  and  original ' '  Forum  "  is  known  technically 


The  Fora 


256  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

as  the  Forum  Romanum,  or  the  Old  Forum,  and  down  to 
Julius  Caesar's  time  it  was  the  only  great  plaza  inside  the 
official  limits  of  the  city.  Under  the  emperors  it  is  still  re- 
vered and  famous,  but  the  needs  of  an  enormous  metropolis 
have  caused  first  Csesar,  then  Augustus,  Vespasian,  Nerva, 
and  finally  Trajan  to  add  other  wide  public  squares  sur- 
rounded by  buildings  far  more  magnificent  than  most  of  those 
around  the  ancient  rallying  spot  of  the  men  of  the  Republic. 

All  these  fora  are  closely  connected  together,  sometimes  by 
no  very  sharp  lines  of  demarkation.  You  can  start  in  near 
the  Flavian  Amphitheater  and  follow  down  the  Sacred  Way 
across  the  Old  Forum,  with  one  soaring  edifice,  triumphal 
arch,  or  memorial  column  succeeding  another  until  at  the 
Temple  of  Trajan  you  find  yourself  on  "  Broadway  "  (Via 
Lota),  upon  the  great  avenue  leading  through  the  select 
shopping  districts,  and  then  past  the  Campus  Martius,  and 
onward  to  the  northern  suburbs.  "  Going  to  the  Forum  " 
means  visiting  any  place  in  this  crowded,  swarming  district, 
where  every  public  and  private  interest  seems  to  have  its 
stronghold,  and  where  the  litters  of  Senators  go  past  so 
frequently  that  nobody  stops  to  count  them. 

226.  Incessant  Crowds  at  the  Forum.  The  Centers  of 
Gossip.  —  If  driving  is  impossible  hi  the  ordinary  Roman 
streets  by  day,  it  is  doubly  impossible  in  this  congested  re- 
gion where  only  those  who  delight  in  crowds  should  endeavor 
to  force  their  way  from  one  building  to  another.  Never- 
theless, with  that  informality  so  characteristic  of  Mediterra- 
nean countries,  all  the  fora  are  allowed  to  be  overrun  with 
idlers.  Ragged  boys  are  scampering  between  the  columns 
fronting  the  most  sacred  temples,  and  on  the  steps  of  the  same 
adult  idlers  from  morn  till  eve  are  playing  "  Robbers " 
on  boards  scratched  upon  the  stonework,1  or  rattling  dice 

1  Such  improvised  gamin g-boards  have  been  discovered  by  the  ar- 

The  Fora  257 

(nominally  forbidden)  if  the  police  are  not  too  near.  The 
foul  and  the  elegant  therefore  are  often  hi  amazing  juxta- 

For  the  average  senator  or  eques  a  morning  visit  to  the 
Forum,  after  he  has  received  his  own  callers  or  clients,  is 
almost  a  required  act  of  the  day.  All  his  associates  are 
doing  the  same  thing ;  he  can  easily  meet  almost  any  friend 
without  making  an  appointment,  he  can  read  that  "  Daily 
Journal  "  presently  to  be  described  (see  p.  282),  hear  the  latest 
tittle-tattle  from  the  palace  and  get  all  the  trade  reports  — 
all  this  even  if  he  has  no  real  business  at  the  Senate  House, 
the  government  bureaus  on  the  Palatine,  or  the  Record  Office 
on  the  slopes  of  the  Capitol. 

If  the  great  men  do  this,  all  the  lesser  fry  and  above  all 
the  genteel  idlers  must  do  the  same.  The  women  frequent 
the  fora  almost  as  much  as  do  the  men.  If  there  is  nothing 
else  to  busy  one,  one  can  always  wedge  into  the  crowds  listen- 
ing to  the  distinguished  advocates  in  the  Basilicas  (Court 
Houses).  It  is  quite  a  proper  thing  to  imitate  Horace  who 
put  in  many  days  simply  wandering  around  the  business 
quarters.  "  I  go  on  foot  (said  he)  and  go  alone.  I  ask  the 
price  of  kitchen-stuff  and  grain.  I  often  stroll  down  toward 
the  cheating  [gambling]  Circus  and  around  the  Forum; 
then  perhaps  I  stop  toward  evening  at  the  fortune  tellers. 
Presently  I  go  home  to  my  supper  of  leeks,  pulse,  and  maca- 

Across  the  fora  will  parade  all  personages  who  wish  to  put 
men's  tongues  to  wagging.  People  laugh  at  a  certain  pre- 
tentious senator  who  likes  to  pass  for  a  great  hunter  and  who 
is  incessantly  sending  his  slaves  around  the  plazas  at  the 
crowded  morning  hour,  bearing  nets  and  spears  and  driving 
a  mule  apparently  bearing  home  a  wild  boar  "  which  we  all 
know,"  whisper  the  cunning,  "  he  has  just  bought  in  the  game 

258  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

Here  in  the  fora  also  the  magistrates  with  tfyeir  lictoral 
fasces  pass  so  often  that  it  is  really  inconvenient  the  number 
of  times  you  have  to  bow  your  head  to  them,  or,  if  in  a  litter, 
to  dismount  and  stand  at  polite  attention :  and  in  such  fre- 
quented places  the  kissing  nuisance  takes  on  its  greatest  bane. 
The  merest  chance  acquaintance,  if  only  he  is  a  citizen,  will 
thrust  his  damp  salute  upon  you,  little  heeding  whether  you 
have  a  vile  cold  or  his  own  lips  be  ulcered  and  his  breath  foul. 

227.  Grandiose  Architecture:  Vast  Quantities  of  Orna- 
ments and  Statues.  —  In  viewing  these  great  public  squares 
and  buildings  instantly  one  is  impressed  by  a  single  fact  — 
the  grandiose  character  of  the  ornaments  and  the  architecture. 
All  the  enormous  public  buildings  are  literally  overladen  with 
adornments.  The  architects  seemed  to  have  abhorred  the 
idea  of  blank  spaces.  There  are  no  reposeful  vistas.  Every- 
thing seems  striving  to  be  magnificent  and  ornate.  Statues, 
singly  or  in  groups,  occupy  all  the  gables,  roofs,  niches,  inter- 
vals of  columns,  and  even  the  stairways.  The  Triumphal 
Arches  are  surmounted  by  equestrian  figures  or  by  prancing 
four-horse  chariots.  Reliefs  and  medallions  cover  all  the 
friezes.  If  there  is  any  space  that  cannot  be  seized  for  the 
mounting  of  sculptures  or  at  least  for  bas-reliefs,  it  can  be 
used  for  painting  designs  in  stucco  or  colored  mosaics. 
Every  detail  down  to  the  gutters  is  highly  decorated. 

Very  different,  therefore,  are  these  fora  from  the  chaste  ele- 
gance of  the  public  places  in  Athens.  On  the  other  hand 
much  of  the  effect  is  splendid  as  well  as  startling.  The 
utilization  of  concrete  permits  the  erection  of  vast  soaring 
domes,  often  covered  with  gilded  tiles.  The  elaborate  Co- 
rinthian pillars  before  many  of  the  buildings  are  often  simply 
superb  polished  monoliths  of  colored  marbles.  The  use  of 
the  arch  (practically  unknown  in  Greece)  permits  new  ef- 
fects often  graceful  and  pleasing. 

The  sculptures  permitted  in  such  public  places  are,  of 

The  Fora  259 

course,  always  of  the  highest  order.  Sometimes  they  are 
original  Greek  masterpieces  carried  as  spoils  to  Italy.  Often 
they  are  excellent  copies  of  those  masterpieces  but  with  small 
variations,  not  inelegant,  which  give  the  reproductions  a  real 
character  of  their  own.  At  every  turn  one  sees  these  tri- 
umphs of  bronze  and  marble,  Apollos,  Minervas,  Victories, 
Winged  Mercuries,  Centaurs,  Homeric  Heroes,  and  all  the 
legendary  host  of  Grseco-Roman  mythology  —  now  singly, 
now  in  groups.  Interspersed  with  these  gods  mounted  on 
pedestals  or  on  the  entablatures  of  the  buildings  are  the 
honorary  statues  of  the  worthies  of  Rome.  Hardly  a  great 
leader  is  absent  from  Romulus  to  the  reigning  Hadrian. 

A  mere  walk  about  the  fora  with  an  explanation  of  their 
portrait  statues  becomes  therefore  a  detailed  lesson  in  Roman 
history.  Besides  the  images  of  the  truly  great  and  good, 
there  are  so  many  others  of  sheer  mediocrities  or  worse  that 
one  is  left  wondering  whether  the  honor  of  a  "  statue  in  the 
Forum  "  is  so  important  after  all.  Even  in  old  Cato's  day 
the  abuse  was  such  that  he  remarked  sarcastically  that 
"  he  would  rather  that  men  asked  why  he  had  not  a  statue  in 
the  Public  Square,  than  whisper  questioning  why  he  had 

228.  Use  of  Color  on  Sculptures  and  Architecture.  — 
Needless  to  say,  in  Rome  as  in  Athens  very  many  of  these 
buildings  are  brilliantly  painted.1  The  great  columns  of 
colored  or  of  snow-white  Carrara  or  Grsecian  marbles  are 
usually  left  in  then*  natural  aspect,  but  nearly  all  the  back- 
grounds, architectural  members,  and  details  are  colored  in 
brilliant  greens,  reds,  and  blues.  The  nude  statues  are  nearly 
all  tinted  in  flesh  color,  and  the  hair  darkened,  and  there  is 
perhaps  an  overplus  of  gilding. 

Under  a  bright  Italian  sky  these  color  combinations  make 
the  vast  succession  of  enormous  buildings  stand  out  with  in- 

i  See  "A  Day  in  Old  Athens,"  p.  216. 

260  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

describable  grandeur ;  and  to  this  spectacle  must  be  added 
the  huge  crowds  incessantly  moving  about  the  fora,  great 
masses  of  soft  white  togas  giving  to  the  wide  areas  all  the 
exuberance  of  teeming  life.  There  can  be  many  other  great 
plazas  in  the  future  capitals  of  the  world ;  there  will  never 
be  any  more  clearly  marked  out  as  the  veritable  center  of 
an  enormous  Empire  than  the  succession  of  fora  in  Rome. 

We  are  not  concerned  with  archaeological  descriptions. 
The  arrangement  of  the  fora  in  this  reign  of  Hadrian  must  be 
sketched  over  lightly  or  explained  completely,  otherwise  the 
result  is  not  knowledge  but  confusion ;  here  a  very  brief  sur- 
vey will  suffice.  If  we  are  following  Publius  Calvus's  litter 
as  it  traces  the  Esquiline  on  routine  business  of  a  senator, 
a  series  of  convenient  side  streets  probably  will  bring  it  past 
the  great  baths  of  Trajan  and  then  down  the  slope  to  the  spot 
where  the  vast  bulk  of  the  Flavian  Amphitheater  rears  it- 
self arrogantly.  The  baths  and  the  Amphitheater  both  will 
be  visited  later  (see  p.  361  and  p.  394),  and  we  can,  therefore, 
ignore  them.  Then  the  litter  bearers  swing  west  and  slightly 
north  —  and  before  us  lies  the  veritable  Heart  of  Rome. 

229.  Entering  the  Series  of  Fora :  the  Temple  of  Venus 
and  Rome.  —  To  avoid  being  overwhelmed  by  details  only 
the  most  conspicuous  objects  and  buildings  will  be  men- 
tioned. Some  structures  are  obvious  at  the  very  first.  To 
the  left,  lifting  vauntingly  above  the  visitors'  heads,  rise  tier 
upon  tier  the  domes,  balconies,  and  pinnacles  of  the  Imperial 
Palace  upon  the  Palatine,  sustained  at  their  base  by  an  enor- 
mous mass  of  arches  and  buttresses  of  masonry  and  concrete. 
The  lords  of  the  palace  at  any  moment  can  look  down  from 
a  gilded  balcony  upon  the  Old  Forum  and  its  bustling  life,  and 
they  need  only  descend  an  inclined  plane  in  order  to  mingle 
with  the  mob,  or  cross  the  Plaza  to  visit  the  Senate  House. 
Directly  ahead  —  at  the  end  of  the  vista,  rises  the  Capitol, 
crowned  by  the  rebuilt  Temple  of  Jupiter  Best  and  Greatest 

The  Fora 


(Jupiter  Optimus  Maximus),  its  roof  flashing  with  the  gold 
tiles ;  its  enormous  pillars  proclaiming  it  the  most  splendid 
fane  in  Rome. 

At  the  head  of  the  Via  Sacra  (for  this  famous  route  of  the 
great  Triwmphators  now  opens  before  us),  upon  our  right, 



The  Fora,  the  Palatine,  the  Capitolme  etc. 
as  in  Period  of  Hadrian:  about  135  AJX 

7.  Twp.  of  T«n»  G«Mtrfx 

8.  Twnp.  of  Mm  ** 

9.  Llbr*rU«  of 

is  the  new  and  indescribably  splendid  Temple  of  Venus  and 
Home,  a  building  just  completed  by  Hadrian.  This  edn 
fice  has  been  reared  by  demolishing  the  last  of  the  ruins  of  the 
impossibly  extravagant  "  Golden  House,"  the  architectural 
monstrosity  of  Nero. 

262  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

In  order  to  get  sufficient  room  for  his  new  structure  Hadrian 
also  was  compelled  to  move  the  colossal  statue  of  Nero 
(99  feet  high)  located  near  the  site  and  to  set  it  nearer  the 
Flavian  Amphitheater.  This  had  been  a  great*  task,  exe- 
cuted by  the  clever  architect  Decrianus,  with  the  aid  of  twenty- 
four  elephants  —  performed  to  the  delight  of  all  the  idling 
crowds  in  Rome.  The  statue  now  towers  upon  its  new  ped- 
estal, with  Nero's  unworthy  head  sagaciously  lifted  from  its 
shoulders  and  one  of  the  Sun  God  substituted.  The  new 
Temple  of  Venus  and  Rome  is  a  truly  magnificent  object ; 
rising  as  it  does  upon  a  terrace  26  feet  high,  500  feet  long,  and 
300  broad,  and  surrounded  by  an  enormous  portico  of  400 
columns  each  40  feet  high.  The  versatile  Emperor  boasts 
that  he  has  been  the  architect  himself,  and  whatever  are 
the  real  facts  no  vestibule  to  the  fora  could  well  be  more 

230.  The  Arch  of  Titus :  Continuation  of  the  Sacred  Way. 
With  the  Temple  of  Venus  and  Rome  to  our  right  and 
the  substructures  of  the  Palatine  to  the  left  we  go  straight 
ahead  to  the  Arch  of  Titus.  Everybody  recognizes  the  shape 
of  that  impressive  but  relatively  simple  structure.  Its  bas- 
reliefs  showing  the  spoils  of  Jerusalem  —  the  "  Golden 
Table  "  and  more  particularly  the  **  Seven  Branched  Candle- 
stick "  —  are  destined  to  be  reproduced  countless  times. 

Old  men  in  Hadrian's  day  can  still  recall  the  Triumphal 
Procession  when  the  son  of  Vespasian  returned  in  glory ;  how 
the  great  throng  of  cheering  soldiers  and  citizens  swept  up 
toward  the  Temple  of  Jupiter  Capitolinus,  then  halted  at  the 
portal  of  the  Temple  while  Simon  Bar-Giora,  the  captive 
Jewish  leader  who  had  been  dragged  in  the  procession,  could 
be  taken  to  a  high  place  overlooking  the  Forum  and  deliber- 
ately scourged  to  death.  At  the  news  that  he  had  perished 
all  the  vast  company  made  the  crags  and  columns  quake  with 
their  brutal  "  acclamation/ *  and  Titus  entered  the  shrine  to 

The  Fora 


sacrifice  and  to  bear  witness  how  much  mightier  was  Latin 
Jove  than  Palestinian  Jehovah. 

And  now  the  Via  Sacra  turns  at  right  angles,  or,  to  be  more 
accurate,  its  thronging  ways  divide.  Go  to  the  left  and  you 
will  come  upon  a  high  street  passing  under  the  brow  of  the 
Palatine.  It  runs  a  considerable  distance  toward  the  Capi- 

SPOILS  FROM  JERUSALEM  :  Arch  of  Titus. 

tol,  receiving  several  sloping  avenues  or  broad  staircases 
leading  down  from  the  Palatine.  This  is  "New  Street" 
(Nova  Via),  the  most  convenient  route  to  certain  buildings 
on  the  southern  side  of  the  Forum. 

It  is  better,  however,  to  follow  the  denser  crowds  which  are 
swerving  somewhat  to  the  right,  and  then  by  a  second  turn 
go  straight  onward  again  between  magnificent  structures, 
with  the  gilded  roofs  of  the  Capitol  ever  looming  ahead  more 
clearly.  We  are  now  on  the  Via  Sacra  proper;  and  caught 


A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

in  the  eddying  throngs  of  litters,  litter  bearers,  running  foot- 
men, following  clients,  elbowing  plebeians  with  now  and  then 



a  masterful  squad  of  Praetorians  in  gilded  armor,  we  find  it 
perhaps  impossible  to  get  more  than  the  names  of  the  struc- 
tures in  passing. 

The  Fora  265 

231.  House  and  Temple  of  Vesta :  the  Regia :  the  Temple 
of  the  Divine  Julius.  —  The  venerable  temple  near  which  the 
ways  divide  is  that  of  Jupiter  Stator  where  Cicero  convened 
the  anxious  Senate  when  he  delivered  his  great  assault  on 
Catiline.  Next  comes  to  view  a  long  high  wall  broken  only 
by  narrow  doorways  until  you  see  a  stately  portal  at  the  west- 
ern end,  nearest  the  Old  Forum.  From  above  the  wall  can 
be  glimpsed  the  tiles  and  marble  of  an  elegant  mansion 
inside,  also  the  foliage  trees  of  a  really  fine  garden.  This  is 
the  House  of  the  Vestals,  the  abode  of  the  six  sacrosanct 
virgins  who  are  the  most  revered  personages  in  all  Rome, 
hardly  barring  the  Emperor. 

As  we  advance  there  come  next  to  view  two  buildings  — 
one  a  small  round  temple  of  antique  and  simple  structure; 
the  other  a  handsome  arched  building  of  no  great  size.  The 
first  is  the  Fane  of  Vesta  itself,  where  burns  the  eternal 
hearthfire  of  Rome,  guarded  by  the  Vestals,  and  the  most 
sacred  structure  in  the  entire  city.  The  second  is  the  Regia, 
the  official  home  of  the  Pontif  ex  Maximus,  the  head  of  the 
Roman  religion,  and  actually  occupied  (since  that  official 
is  now  the  reigning  Emperor)  by  various  clerks  and  adminis- 
trative bureaus  relating  to  the  upkeep  of  the  State  cultus. 
To  the  right  of  these  buildings  are  government  warehouses 
and  offices ; r  and  then,  closing  off  the  Old  Forum  proper 
from  these  structures  just  named,  stands  another  extraor- 
dinarily magnificent  Temple,  that  of  the  deified  Julius 

232.  The  Old  Forum  (Forum  Romanum).  —  We  are  now 
close  upon  the  actual  Forum.  It  can  be  entered  by  two  meth- 
ods :  you  can  go  between  the  Temple  of  Vesta  and  that  of 
Caesar,  very  likely  walking  through  the  triumphal  arch  of 

1  Later  than  the  age  of  Hadrian  this  area  was  occupied  by  such  famous 
structures  as  the  Temple  of  Antoninus  and  Faustina,  the  Basilica  of 
Constantine.  etc. 

266  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

Augustus,  in  which  case  you  will  see  the  pillared  facade  of 
the  stately  Temple  of  Castor  and  Pollux  (the  divine  helpers 
of  Rome  at  the  half  legendary  battle  of  Lake  Regillus),  and 
then  across  that  busy  shopping  street,  the  Vicus  Tuscus,  be- 
fore reaching  the  quieter  portico  of  the  great  Basilica  Julia ; 
or  you  can  take  a  better  way  by  keeping  on  past  the  northern 
side  of  the  Temple  of  Caesar  and  coming  out  pretty  directly 

OLD  FORUM  :  looking  west  towards  the  Capitol.    Restoration  by  Nispi- 


upon  the  Forum.  In  so  doing  you  will  have  the  second  great 
court  house,  the  old  but  capacious  Basilica  ^Emilia  to  the 
north  on  your  right.  Let  tribunals  and  litigants,  however, 
wait  —  before  the  visitor  at  last  is  opening  one  of  the  most 
famous  areas  in  the  entire  world  —  the  Forum  Romanum. 

Of  the  Old  Forum  well  may  one  say  what  Cicero  declared 
of  Athens,  "  On  whatever  spot  we  tread  we  awake  a  memory." 
There  is  hardly  an  event  connected  with  the  long  reaches  of 
Roman  history  which  is  not  also  connected  in  one  manner 
or  another  with  this  public  square.  The  first  impression,  to 

The  Fora 


be  sure,  may  be  one  of  disappointment :  the  whole  open  plaza 
barely  measures  300  by  150  feet.  It  seems  the  more  confined 
because  a  large  part  of  the  southern  side  is  hemmed  in  by  the 
huge  Basilica  Julia,  while  directly  above  the  square  rise  the 
two  hills  of  the  Capitoiine  and  the  Palatine,  their  summits 

CASTOR  :  the  building  on  the  left,  with  statues  beneath  its  upper  arches, 
is  the  Basilica  Julia.  Restoration  after  Von  Falke* 

crowned  with  lofty  and  noble  buildings  looking  down  upon 
the  Forum  as  a  kind  of  common  center. 

As  one  advances,  however,  the  impression  deepens  as  to 
how  earnestly  the  Romans  have  tried  to  concentrate  their 
whole  life  around  this  beloved  square.  If  statues  abound  else- 
where in  the  city,  they  seem  here  more  numerous  than  even 
the  surging  throngs  around  their  pedestals.  Every  kind  of 
human  activity  is  apparently  going  on  simultaneously. 
Along  the  north  side,  as  we  have  seen,  are  the  offices  of  those 

268  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

great  bankers  who  hold  the  nations  in  fee  from  the  Eu- 
phrates to  Hibernia,  yet  pedlers  are  now  wandering  about, 
almost  under  the  feet  of  the  consul's  lictors,  hawking  hot 
sausages,  strings  of  garlic,  and  pots  of  eye  salve,  while  a  snake 
charmer  has  obtained  the  license  to  exhibit  two  stupid  ser- 
pents on  the  actual  steps  to  the  Temple  of  Janus  just  beyond 
the  Basilica  oEmilia, 

233.  The  Forum  Area :  the  Posting  of  Public  Notices.  — 
Walking  out  into  the  area  itself,  we  find  it  solidly  paved  with 
rectangular  blocks  of  travertine.  The  days  are  gone  when 
closely  packed  throngs  of  quirites  stood  for  hours  upon  this 
pavement  listening  to  the  orators  bidding  them  vote  upon 
peace  or  war,  or  for  or  against  some  proposed  law,  as  lay  in 
their  right  as  free  citizens.  Gone,  too,  is  the  day  of  that 
great  funeral  pyre  of  garments,  ornaments,  trinkets,  tables 
and  benches,  which  the  frenzied  mob  heaped  around  the 
corpse  of  Caesar  after  Marcus  Antonius  had  thundered  his 
invective  against  Cassius  and  Marcus  Brutus.  But  not  gone 
is  the  Senate  House  (the  Curia),  looking  out  across  the  plaza 
from  the  northern  side  of  the  square,  just  beyond  the  Temple 
of  Janus.  And  around  the  orator's  stands,  the  Rostra,  at 
the  western  end  of  the  area  there  is  still  another  elaborate 
funeral  in  progress;  the  wearers  of  the  imagines  sitting  in 
their  curule  chairs,  and  the  orator  pompously  lauding  "  the 
noble  departed." 

Truth  to  tell  the  Forum  is  frequented  every  morning  largely 
to  get  the  news.  Not  merely  can  you  meet  the  bearers  of 
all  sorts  of  public  or  confidential  information ;  you  can  spend 
an  hour  merely  reading  the  great  "  white  boards  "  (album*) 
bearing  official  and  private  notices  which  stand  around 
everywhere.  The  " Daily  Gazette"  is  here  posted,  and 
we  shall  consider  its  contents  presently;  but  apart  from 
that,  whether  you  wish  to  know  the  price  of  grain  or  the  day 
set  for  a  lawsuit;  whether  Syphax  the  Moor  will  race  his 

The  Fora  269 

four  in  the  next  circus,  or  Epaphroditus  the  Athenian  will 
lecture  to-morrow  on  the  nature  of  the  soul,  the  Forum  plac- 
ards will  tell  you  everything.  Gossip  incalculable,  often  of 
a  kind  which  no  man  dare  put  in  writing,  you  may  also  pick 
up,  as  well  as  accost  half  of  your  acquaintance.  A  visit  to 
the  Forum,  therefore,  is  almost  as  important  to  a  Roman  of 
parts  and  activity  as  in  another  age  will  be  the  perusal  of  the 

234.  Western  End  of  Forum:  the  Rostra:  the  Golden 
Milestone :  the  Tullianum  Prison.  —  At  the  extreme  west- 
ern end  of  the  area,  more  temples  are  seen  rising  on  the  slopes 
of  the  lofty  Capitol.  Here  is  the  Temple  of  Saturn;  and 
higher  still  the  Temple  of  the  deified  Vespasian,  the  Temple 
of  Concord,  and  the  great "  Public  Record  Office,"  the  Tabu- 
larium,  and  the  Rostra  are  reached  just  before  you  quit  the 
level  area  and  take  the  winding  ascents  towards  the  Capitol. 

These  famous  stands  for  the  orators  constitute  an  elaborate 
platform,  with  a  fine  marble  balustrade  which  is  adorned 
with  exceptionally  good  bronze  statues  of  notables  such  as 
Sulla  and  Pompeius;  although  all  these  ornaments  were 
added  by  Julius  Caesar  and  know  not  the  days  of  the  Old 
Republic.  Some  of  the  original  "  beaks  "  (rostra)  from  cap- 
tured warships  which  gave  the  famous  pulpit  its  name  are 
still  in  position,  however,  with  others  from  such  battles  as 
Actium  added.1  Even  if  the  Republic  is  dead,  the  place 
remains  of  decided  utility  not  merely  for  funerals,  but  also 
for  formal  speeches  on  state  occasions ;  and  sometimes  an 
emperor  will  still  condescend  to  harangue  the  loyal  quirites 
from  its  platform. 

Close  by  the  Rostra  and  near  its  southern  end  rises  a  tall 
stone  pillar  coated  with  gilded  bronze.  This  is  the  "  Golden 

1 A  difficult  archaeological  question  is  connected  with  the  exact  site  of 
the  Rostra  before  Julius  Csesar's  time.  Probably  its  original  position 
was  nearer  the  other  end  of  the  Forum. 


A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

Milestone  "  whereon  Augustus  inscribed  the  names  of  the 
great  roads  leading  out  of  Rome,  and  the  distances  to  the 
chief  towns  along  their  course.  "  All  roads  lead  to  Rome" 
and  leading  to  Rome  find  their  convergence  in  the  "  Golden 
Milestone."  It  comes  close,  therefore,  to  being  the  "  Hub  " 
of  the  entire  Roman  Empire. 

OLD  FORUM:  present   condition,  western    end    looking  east, 
ground  pillars  of  Temple  of  Saturn. 

In  fore- 

Near  the  other,  the  northern  end  of  the  Rostra,  when  one 
goes  a  little  of  the  way  up  to  the  Capitol,  there  is  quite  a  dif- 
ferent landmark,  far  more  venerable  —  the  old  prison  of  the 
city,  the  Tullianum,  prepared,  according  to  the  story,  by 
King  Ancus  Martius.  It  was  originally  nothing  but  a  kind 
of  well  let  into  the  damp  rock,  with  an  upper  and  a  lower 
compartment;  this  second  chamber  is  only  accessible  by 
means  of  a  hole  in  its  vaulted  roof  through  which  prisoners 
were  lowered  by  a  rope. 

The  Fora  271 

The  Tullianum  has  long  since  been  discarded  as  the  public 
jail,  but  state  prisoners  are  sometimes  confined  or  executed 
there.  Familiar  is  the  story  of  how  Jugurtha,  the  luckless 
Numidian,  was  starved  to  death  in  the  lower  dungeon ;  and 
how  Lentulus  and  the  other  Castilinian  conspirators  were 
strangled  in  the  upper.  Since  then,  if  one  accepts  the  story 
told  by  those  very  despised  creatures,  the  Christians,  their 
great  leader,  Peter,  one  of  the  associates  of  Christus,  was  kept 
there  in  chains  before  he  was  taken  out  to  be  executed  by 
Nero's  orders.  It  is  assuredly  a  gloomy  and  fearsome 
enough  place  to  strike  terror  even  into  such  "  Haters  of  all 
Mankind,"  as  official  documents  assure  us  these  Christians 
must  be. 

235.  The  Basilica  JEmilia:  the  Temple  of  Janus:  the 
Senate  House  (Curia).  —  But  to  return  to  the  great  buildings 
lining  the  Forum.  The  Basilica  ^Emilia  on  the  north  side 
was  erected  as  early  as  179  B.C.,  and,  though  often  repaired,  it 
is  a  substantial  monument  of  the  great  days  of  the  Republic. 
It  is  so  like  the  greater  Basilica  Julia,  however,  that  one  de- 
scription will  do  later  for  both.  Directly  by  this  court  house 
stands  the  venerated  Temple  of  Janus,  a  structure  with 
many  arches  and  sacred  to  the  most  characteristic  if  not  the 
greatest  of  all  the  gods  of  Rome.1  The  gates  of' the  shrine, 
one  notices,  are  standing  carefully  open,  as  a  token  that  some 
petty  frontier  wars  are  still  raging.  When  absolute  peace 
prevails  these  doors,  however,  will  be  carefully  shut.  The 
Romans  are  thrifty  and  practical  people.  Why  waste  good 
sacrificial  victims  and  incense  on  the  god  when  his  help 
against  the  foe  is  not  needed?  It  would  be  like  paying  a 
doctor  when  one  is  feeling  entirely  well. 

Leading  away  from  the  Forum  and  this  Temple  is  a  series 
of  vaulted  passages  also  called  janus,  which  form  a  large 

1  Janus  was  about  the  only  Latin  deity  for  whom  there  could  not  be 
assigned  a  Greek  counterpart. 

272  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

part  of  the  banking  district.  Here,  because  the  Sacred 
Way  is  too  limited,  many  great  financiers  have  their  offices ; 
here  countless  clerks  are  busy  with  their  account  books; 
here  great  loans  are  negotiated  or  investments  are  placed 
hourly.  It  is  almost  a  regular  exchange  and  the  scene  of 
many  speculations.  Regularly  one  hears  of  fortunes  made 
or  lost  "  between  the  janus,"  i.e.  by  the  workings  of  high 

Beside  the  Temple  of  Janus  rises  the  magnificent  porch  of 
the  Curia  (Senate  House).  The  Conscript  Fathers  are  not 
yet  in  session,  and  a  visit  to  the  interior  can  wait.  The 
structure  is  very  splendid,  but  it  is  not  the  grand  old  Curia 
Hostilia,  built  according  to  legend  by  King  Tullus  Hostilius, 
and  the  scene  of  nearly  all  those  famous  Senatorial  debates 
across  the  long  annals  of  the  Republic.  That  ancient  build- 
ing was  burned  in  52  B.C.  during  the  riots  following  the  murder 
of  the  idol  of  the  populace,  the  demagogue  Clodius.  Julius 
Caesar,  therefore,  had  a  good  excuse  for  building  a  stately 
new  Senate  House.  This  in  turn  was  damaged  in  Nero's 
great  fire,  but  Domitian  carefully  repaired  it  —  and  with  its 
fine  pillars,  bronze  doors,  and  galaxy  of  statues,  it  forms 
a  worthy  meeting  place  for  what  is  still  a  venerable  and 
powerful  body. 

236.  The  Basilica  Julia,  the  Greatest  Court  House  in 
Rome ;  the  Lacus  Curtius. — The  Basilica  Julia  on  the  south- 
ern side  of  the  Forum  is  a  building  into  which  it  is  best  to 
enter.  The  structure  was  begun  by  Julius  Caesar  to  meet  the 
imperative  need  for  a  larger  court  house.  More  important 
business  is  transacted  under  its  roof  and  ample  porticoes, 
perhaps,  than  in  any  other  building  in  Rome;  and  in  bad 
weather  nearly  all  the  Forum  loungers  take  refuge  beneath 
its  ample  shelter.  Its  size  is  worthy  of  its  important  func- 
tions ;  it  is  270  feet  long  and  in  addition  to  the  regular  exterior 
colonnade  has  a  fine  inner  colonnade. 

The  Fora 


These  double  porticoes  are  the  special  lounging  spots  of 
fashionable  idlers  of  both  sexes.  Young  men  of  fashion 
seeking  to  meet  congenial  ladies  of  easy  habits  have  only  to 
loiter  around  and  stroll  about  a  little  —  their  hopes  are 
gratified.  Assuredly  Venus  can  hardly  reckon  up  the  love 
affairs  that  here  have  ripened.  The  pavements  are  even  more 
marked  up  for  gaming  boards  than  elsewhere  and  some  of  the 
players,  we  note,  actually  wear  the  equestrian  stripes,  while 

INTERIOR  OF  A  BASILICA.:  restored. 

there  are  senatorial  latidaves  in  the  interested  throngs  stand- 
ing around  them.  Along  the  sides  of  the  building  are  roomy 
offices,  where  a  large  corps  of  city  officials  and  clerks  conduct 
the  various  municipal  boards  and  bureaus. 

The  glory  of  the  Basilica  Julia,  however,  is  its  great  hall, 
used  for  the  chief  courts  of  justice,  barring  always  those  of 
the  Emperor  and  the  Senate.  The  hall  is  paved  with  colored 
marbles  of  price;  the  pillars  running  down  either  side  are 
splendid  monoliths  of  still  rarer  marbles,  and  the  ceiling  is 
heavy  with  gilt  fretting  and  painting.  In  every  possible 

274  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

niche  rise  statues  of  famous  jurisconsults  and  advocates. 
The  light  streams  down  abundantly  through  the  windows  in 
the  upper  clerestory,  and  in  this  second  story  at  the  present 
moment  there  are  standing  or  sitting  groups  of  very  respect- 
able men  and  women  listening  to  the  orator  pleading  before 
one  of  the  tribunals  below.  Any  guide  will  tell  how  the 
mad  Emperor  Caligula  used  to  delight  to  stand  in  these 
upper  balconies,  fling  down  money,  and  roar  with  delight 
when  the  crowds  trampled  one  another  struggling  to  get  the 

So  large  is  this  hall  that  not  one  but  four  tribunals  have 
been  set  up  in  different  quarters  of  the  building,  and  litiga- 
tion often  proceeds  before  all  four  of  them  simultaneously, 
although  in  the  absence  of  partitions  strong-lunged  advo- 
cates sometimes  interfere  with  their  neighbors;  they  tell 
of  a  certain  stentorian  Trachalus  who  once  while  speak- 
ing before  one  tribunal  not  merely  was  heard  by  but  drew 
applause  from  the  audiences  in  the  other  three.  Here 
Quintilian,  Pliny  the  Younger,  Tacitus,  and  other  orators 
of  the  generation  just  departed,  won  their  fame,  and  at 
present  every  windy  amateur  in  the  rhetoric  schools  dreams 
of  the  day  when  he  can  wave  out  his  toga  in  the  Basilica 
Julia  before  a  crowded  and  cheering  balcony. 

These  are  some  of  the  more  famous  monuments  in  and 
around  the  Forum  Romanum.  Were  one  to  descend  to 
particulars  the  task  were  endless.  Perhaps  there  should  be 
mentioned  a  certain  modest  altar  in  the  very  center  of  the 
open  plaza.  This  marks  the  so-called  Locus  Curtius.  Anti- 
quarians give  one  several  stories  concerning  it,  but  the  ac- 
cepted version  is  this.  —  Once  in  the  good  old  days  a  yawn- 
ing gulf  opened  at  this  very  spot,  the  portent,  perhaps,  of  the 
devouring  of  the  entire  city  —  when  lo  I  the  brave  youth, 
Marcus  Curtius  "  devoted "  himself  for  his  country  and 
plunged  unflinchingly  into  the  abyss.  The  earth  closed  over 

The  Fora 


him,  he  was  seen  no  more,  but  Rome  held  his  name  in  eternal 
remembrance.  Doubtless  he  had  thus  taken  upon  himself 
the  anger  of  the  infernal  gods  and  had  saved  the  state ! 1 

237.   The  New  Fora  of  the  Emperors:    the  Temple    of 
Peace.  —  After  surveying  the  Forum  Romanum   we   are 

THE  TARPEIAN  RQCK  :  on  slopes  of  the  Capitol.     (From  this  traitors  were 
hurled  in  the  time  of  the  Republic.) 

told  that  five  other  fora  —  the  creations  of  high-minded 
Emperors  —  still  await  inspection.  Truth  to  tell,  however, 
these  great  plazas  —  not  marking  the  growth  and  events  of 
centuries,  but  the  mandates  of  wealthy  despots  —  give  one  a 

1  Later  visitors  to  the  Forum  would,  of  course,  be  impressed  with  the 
fine,  if  ornate,  Arch  of  Septimius  Sffoerus,  erected  about  211  A.D.  at  the 
northwest  corner  of  the  plaza. 

276  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

sense  of  anticlimax.  Of  them  it  will  be  properly  written : 
"  The  fora  of  the  Empire  were  as  much  superior  in  mag- 
nificence to  the  Forum  Romanum  as  they  were  inferior  in 
historical  interest  and  association." 

They  are  the  work  of  master  architects  mobilizing  armies 
of  laboring  slaves,  stone  cutters,  and  artists.  The  eye  be- 
comes weary  with  the  incessant  sheen  of  costly  marble ;  the 
tfquestrian  statues,  the  forests  of  ornate  Corinthian  pillars, 
the  great  reaches  of  tessellated  pavements,  the  quantities  of 
colored  paint,  enamel,  and  heavy  gilding.  At  first  these 
imperial  fora  appear  to  the  visitor  as  a  hopeless  complex 
of  pretentious  splendor ;  but  after  a  little,  a  clever  method 
appears  in  their  arrangement  by  which  one  great  plaza  or 
system  of  public  buildings  joins  itself  to  another. 

Four  of  these  public  squares  join  closely  together,  but  the 
fifth  stands  a  little  apart.  This  last  is  located  near  the  north- 
east end  of  the  Old  Forum,  verging  toward  the  Subura  and 
the  Esquiline,  and  is  the  "  Forum  of  Peace,"  constructed  by 
Vespasian  about  75  A..D.  The  open  area,  however,  is  rela- 
tively small,  for  its  center  is  occupied  by  the  imposing 
"Temple  of  Peace/'  This  temple  is  adorned  with  a  perfect 
gallery  of  sculptures  and  paintings,  nearly  all  of  them  mas- 
terpieces by  the  Greeks.  These  works  of  art  had  formerly 
occupied  Nero's  Golden  House  until  that  grandiose  struc- 
ture was  destroyed  by  the  thrifty  Vespasian.  In  this  Tenv 
pie  of  Peace  likewise  are  kept  those  precious  Jewish  spoils 
shown  on  the  Arch  of  Titus,  and  there  is  not  merely  a  fine 
library  but  a  hall  for  the  savants  and  scientists  when  they 
meet  for  their  learned  conventicles. 

238.  The  Fora  of  Julius,  Augustus,  and  Kerva.  —  In 
dealing  with  the  four  connected  fora  it  profits  little  to  mul- 
tiply detailed  descriptions;  one  glittering  marble  edifice 
succeeds  another  around  each  square.  Nearest  to  the  Old 
Forum  lies  the  Forum  Julium,  Julius  Caesar  paid  out 

The  Fora 


100,000,000  sesterces  ($4,000,000)  merely  for  the  land  which 
it  occupies,  and  its  buildings  are  worthy  of  the  costly  soil 
whereon  they  stand.  In  its  center  rises  the  great  Temple  of 
Venus  Genetrix,  "  mother "  of  the  Julian  line.  Here  at 
times  the  Senate  can  convene,  while  the  shops  under  the 
porticoes  around  are  among  the  finest  in  Rome. 

Directly  north  of  this  Forum  Julium  is  the  Forum  Augus- 
tum.      When  young  Octavius  went  forth  to  avenge  his 


adopted  father  against  Brutus  and  Cassius  he  vowed  a  temple 
to  Mars  Ultor  ("  Mars  the  Avenger  ").  Later  as  the  Em- 
peror Augustus,  most  splendidly  he  fulfilled  this  vow.  The 
porticoes  around  the  plaza  are  of  Numidian  marble,  and 
variegated  marbles  compose  the  pavements ;  the  open  area  is 
covered  with  bronze  quadrigae  (four-horse  chariots),  triumphal 
arches,  and,  of  course,  numerous  statues,  some  of  precious 
metals,  while  the  Temple  of  Mars  Ultor  itself  matches  all 
its  rivals  in  magnificence. 

To  the  southeast  of  the  Forum  of  Augustus  and  joining  it 

278  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

to  the  Forum  of  Peace  is  the  smaller  Forum  of  Nerva.  This 
plaza  was  really  begun  by  Domitian,  but  when  that  tyrant 
perished  ere  completing  the  task,  it  was  finished  and  named 
by  the  eirenic  Nerva.  It  is  really  a  kind  of  broad  thorough- 
fare leading  down  from  the  Subura  district,  although  upon 
it  fronts  a  fine  Temple  of  Minerva.  One  of  the  features  of 
this  square  is  a  stately  avenue  of  statues  of  the  deified  Em- 

239.  The  Forum,  Column,  and  Libraries  of  Trajan.  —  By 
far  the  finest  of  the  imperial  fora,  however,  is  that  of  Tra- 
jan—  and  all  the  buildings,  when  we  visit  them,  are  still 
relatively  new.  It  opens  to  the  northwest  of  the  Forum  of 
Augustus,  and  is  not  really  a  single  square  but  a  genuine 
series  of  squares. 

To  get  the  level  space  for  their  great  areas,  it  was  needful 
to  cut  away  a  whole  spur  of  the  Quirinal,  excavating  to  a 
depth  equal  to  the  height  of  Trajan's  Column  (128  feet). 
On  entering  this  precinct,  if  one  has  been  marveling  before, 
ft  is  right  to  be  astounded  now.  First  there  comes  the 
Forum  Trajani  proper,  a  square  of  most  imposing  size,  with 
lofty  porticoes,  semi-circular  at  the  ends ;  and  in  the  center 
stands  a  remarkable  equestrian  statue  of  the  imperial  founder 
himself.  Then  there  is  the  vast  Basilica  Ulpia,  the  third 
great  court  house  of  the  city,  which  spreads  lengthwise  across 
the  northwestern  boundary  of  this  forum.  It  is  300  feet 
long,  185  feet  broad,  and  five  lines  of  pillars  divide  it  into 
four  separate  halls  for  different  kinds  of  business ;  in  fact 
it  is  really  a  finer  building  than  the  older  Basilica  Julia. 

Going  through  this  enormous  but  very  open  structure,  we 
come  to  a  second  smaller  plaza,  and  here  rises  one  of  the  no- 
blest sights  of  Rome  —  a  monument  that  will  draw  the  ad- 
miration of  all  ensuing  ages  —  the  Column  of  Trajan  itself. 
The  bas-reliefs  telling  in  picturesque  detail  the  whole  story 
of  the  Dacian  Wars,  the  2500  human  figures  executed  with 

The  Fora 


AN  IMPERIAL  FORUM,  NEAR  THE  COLUMN  OP  TRAJAN:  restoration  atter 
Von  Falke. 

280  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

infinite  fidelity  and  care,  wind  spirally  from  the  top  of  the 
18  foot  pedestal  clear  to  the  summit.  This  last  is  crowned 
by  a  colossal  bronze-gilt  statue  of  Trajan  looking  down  upon 
the  sculptured  record  of  his  military  glory. 

This  column  is,  perhaps,  the  worthiest  monument  of  the 
whole  imperial  age,1  The  marvels  of  Trajan's  forum-system, 
however,  are  not  exhausted.  North  and  south  of  the  Col- 
umn are  two  fine  buildings  of  moderate  size ;  these  are  the 
Bibliothecce,  the  two  public  "  Libraries  of  Trajan/'  one  Latin, 
one  Greek — containing  on  the  whole  the  finest  collections 
of  books  in  Rome ;  and  directly  facing  the  Column  and  the 
Libraries  across  another  open  area  of  considerable  extent 
is  the  Temple  of  Trajan,  where  the  priests  daily  offer  their 
sacrifice  to  the  deified  manes  of  the  terror  of  Dacia  and  of 

240.  The  Park  System  of  the  Campus  Martius:  the 
pantheon.  —  These  exhaust  for  the  moment  the  structures 
we  can  survey  around  the  fora:  and  it  were  well  to  stop 
lest  sheer  confusion  may  follow.  With  time,  however,  we 
could  wander  after  the  throngs  again  northwestward  along 
"  Broadway  "  past  the  great  porticoes  and  fine  shops  of  the 
Ssepta  Julia,  and  saunter  about  the  great  park  system  of 
Campus  Martius. 

The  public  baths  there  located  and  such  structures  as  the 
Theater  of  Pompey  and  the  Flaminian  Circus  can,  perhaps, 
be  explained  later;  but  a  word  must  be  spoken  for  the  one 
great  temple  which  is  here  situated  away  from  the  center  of 
Rome.  The  Pantheon,  dedicated  to  Mars,  Venus,  the  deified 
Caesar,  and  to  all  the  other  deities  of  the  Julian  line  was  the 
erection  of  Marcus  Agrippa,  the  mighty  coadjutor  of  Augus- 
tus. It  has  just  been  rebuilt  from  its  very  foundations  by 

1  The  column  of  Marcus  Aurelius,  erected  about  180  A.D.  in  much  the 
same  style  as  that  of  Trajan,  although  a  magnificent  monument,  is  not 
equal  in  execution  to  the  older  column, 

INTERIOR  OF  THE  PANTHEON  :  restoration  according  to  Von  Falke. 

282  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

Hadrian.1  Its  noble  dome  shines  with  the  golden  tiles.  The 
soaring  rotunda  inside  is  encircled  with  stately  altars  to  the 
gods  the  building  honors.  Already  one  can  stand  and  look 
upward  143  feet  to  that  patch  of  blue  18  feet  in  diameter 
through  which  sun  and  stars  will  shine  down  across  at  least 
eighteen  centuries  of  changing  history  —  making  the  Pan- 
theon the  one  great  building,  not  a  ruin,  which  shall  link  the 
Rome  of  the  Csesars  with  the  Rome  of  another  day. 

241.  The  Daily  Gazette  (Acta  Diurna).  How  Rome 
Gets  Its  News. — One  thing,  to  avoid  complexity,  we  omitted 
while  crossing  the  old  Forum  Romanum.  It  behooves  us  to 
return  and  to  explain  it.  Before  a  series  of  tall  white  boards 
Bet  up  against  certain  pillars  is  gathered  an  elbowing,  gesticu- 
lating throng.  Many  of  the  company  have  tablets  and  seem 
copying  vigorously.  The  crowd  is  always  receiving  additions, 
while  others  are  departing.  The  white  boards  ("  albums  ") 
when  we  get  near  enough  are  seen  to  be  covered  with  some- 
what fine  writing.  There  is  a  special  rush  and  flutter  in  the 
crowd  when  a  petty  official  sets  up  still  another  white  board, 
and  a  hundred  styli  instantly  become  busy.  It  is  easy  to 
learn  the  excitement  caused  by  -these  notices :  they  con- 
stitute the  publication  of  the  new  Acta  Diurna. 

Even  without  the  Acta  Diurna  ("  Daily  Doings  ")  a  city 
like  Rome  would  have  its  supply  of  news.  There  are  profes- 
sional gad-abouts  who  make  themselves  desirable  guests  at 
dinner-parties  merely  because  they  are  "  very  well  informed." 
They  have  picked  up  all  the  stories  about  the  Parthian  king, 
the  new  chiefs  of  the  Germans,  the  number  of  legionaries 
mobilized  on  the  Rhine,  and  the  corn  prospects  in  Africa  and 
Egypt,  as  well  as  every  kind  of  commercial  information. 

1  He  magnanimously  allowed  Agrippa's  name  still  to  appear  as  the 
builder  of  the  temple.  The  Pantheon  apparently  owed  its  preservation 
through  the  Middle  Ages  to  the  fact  that  it  was  early  consecrated  as  a 
Christian  church,  and  hence  was  exempt  from  profanation. 

The  Fora  283 

Other  wiseacres  of  a  less  reliable  cast  are  known  as  "  svbros- 
trani,"  —  "  Rostra-haunters,"  —  for  at  the  Rostra  all  gos- 
sipers  have  their  tryst.  These  people  specialize  in  rumors  of 
calamity,  reports  of  great  military  disasters,  of  the  sudden 
death  of  magistrates,  etc.,  and  take  a  peculiar  glee  in  cir- 
culating vile  stories  about  the  Emperors  —  the  danger  of 
repeating  such  rumors  only  adding  spice  to  their  game. 
Usually,  however,  they  are  too  insignificant  fry  for  the  gov- 
ernment to  consider  worth  prosecuting. 

242.  Contents  of  the  Acta  Diuraa.  —  The  Acta  Diurna, 
however,  is  issued  by  a  government  bureau,  and  a  certain 
degree  of  official  responsibility  is  attached  to  the  more  formal 
statements.  The  editors,  nevertheless,  are  allowed  to  add 
racy  anecdotes  of  a  personal  nature,  especially  concerning  the 
higher  aristocracy.  The  relations  between  the  senatorial 
nobility  and  the  freedmen  and  equites  in  the  imperial  govern- 
ment bureaus  are  none  the  best ;  and  Hadrian  himself  is  not 
on  perfect  terms  with  the  Conscript  Fathers.1 

Official  circles,  therefore,  are  never  careful  to  suppress 
spicy  bits  about  the  aristocrats.  The  public  record  offices 
and  dispatches  from  the  provinces  supply  most  of  the  items, 
but  some  of  the  material  can  only  have  come  from  direct  re- 
portorial  activity.  In  any  case  the  interest  in  this  Daily 
Gazette  is  enormous.  Its  single  copy  will  be  multiplied 
many  times,  copies  being  made  of  the  copies,  and  the  same 
sent  to  wealthy  people  in  all  parts  of  the  Empire.  A  month 
from  now  groups  will  probably  be  gathering  in  Spanish 
Corduba  and  Syrian  Antioch  to  read  the  items  published 
to-day  in  Rome. 

Owing  to  the  limitations  of  space,  despite  the  use  of  many 
"white  boards,"  the  Acta  Diurna  has  to  maintain  a  very 

1  At  the  end  of  his  reign  the  Senate  so  disliked  him  that  (although  he 
had  been  in  the  main  an  excellent  ruler)  his  successor  Antoninus  had 
much  trouble  in  getting  him  voted  a  "dtww,"  aa  were  all  good  Emperon 

284  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

dry  journalistic  style  indeed.  The  lively  Italian  imagina- 
tion, however,  can  provide  most  of  the  details,  even  if  they 
are  not  at  once  eked  out  by  quantities  of  that  "  smoke,"  oral 
rumor,  which  is  passed  about  amid  the  copyists  the  moment 
the  new  gazette  is  posted.  This  is  a  very  commonplace  is- 
sue, and  the  albums  read  something  like  this  : l 

"  Records  for  the  tenth  day  of  June.    Yesterday boys 

and girls  were  born  in  the  city  of  Rome.    bushels  of 

grain  were  landed  at  the  Emporium.    head  of  cattle  [and 

other  commodities  specified]  were  also  brought  into  the  city. 
On  this  same  day  the  palace  slave  Mithridates  was  ordered 
crucified  for  blaspheming  the  guardian  genius  of  his  master 

the  Emperor.    At  the  imperial  treasury million  sesterces, 

which  it  proved  impossible  to  loan  out  at  interest,  were  or- 
dered returned  to  the  public  funds,  A  fire  broke  out  in  the 
insula  of  Nasta  in  the  Viminal  district  but  was  extinguished." 

243.  Miscellaneous  Entries  and  Gossip  in  the  Gazette. 
—  The  entries  go  on  to  give  the  doings  in  the  petty  police 
courts,  the  copies  of  important  wills  with  especial  mention 
of  any  bequests  that  were  left  the  Emperor,  the  statement 
that  a  certain  eques  had  caught  his  wife  in  gross  misconduct 
and  divorced  her ;  that  a  procurator  for  a  large  trading  house 
was  being  prosecuted  for  embezzlement,  and  a  summary  of 
the  evidence  in  a  great  violation  of  contract  case  between  two 
marble  importers  now  on  trial  in  the  Basilica  ^Emilia.  Then 
follow  magisterial  edicts,  lists  of  judicial  appointments,  and 
careful  entries  about  all  the  doings  of  the  Emperor  and  of 
his  progress  back  toward  Rome.  Next  is  given  a  rather 
elaborate  summary  (evidently  made  by  shorthand  reporters) 
of  the  latest  debate  in  the  Senate,  with  careful  entry  of  the 
applause  and  interruptions  which  the  orators  received. 

1  We  have  no  copy  of  the  Acta  Drama.  We  possess,  however,  what 
seems  a  pretty  literal  parody  of  its  style  and  contents  in  Petronius,  and 
can  reconstruct  part  of  an  issue  with  some  confidence. 

The  Fora  285 

All  this  is  more  or  less  "official";  but  the  newsmongers 
are  really  more  interested  in  "  human  interest  stories  " 
added  by  the  publishers'  private  authority.  Thus  it  makes 
good  reading  to  tell  how  a  frantic  admirer  of  a  certain  "  Red  " 
charioteer  who  was  killed  in  the  last  races,  cast  himself  on 
the  funeral  pyre  of  the  beloved  jockey,  in  order  not  to  sur- 
vive his  idol;  or  to  relate  how  a  citizen  of  Fsesule  has 
just  visited  Rome  and  sacrificed  to  Jupiter  along  with 
"  eight  children,  thirty-six  grandchildren,  and  nineteen  great 
grandchildren."  1  Furthermore,  the  report  of  love  affairs 
among  the  noble  and  mighty  is  never  omitted  —  how  a  sena- 
tor's wife  has  eloped  with  a  gladiator,  and  how  a  certain  oft- 
mentioned  lady  is  about  to  wed  an  eighth  husband.  Finally 
(perhaps  the  most  copied  of  all)  there  are,  of  course,  the 
announcements  for  the  coming  exhibitions  in  the  theater, 
amphitheater,  and  circus,  with  lists  of  the  actors,  gladiators, 
and  charioteers,  and  other  data,  which  can  enable  all  Rome  to 
arrange  its  wagers  and  its  holidays. 

The  Acta  Diurna  therefore  goes  about  as  far  as  is  possible 
to  create  a  real  newspaper  in  the  days  of  mere  penmanship. 
Its  vogue  is  immense.  Many  a  fine  lady  sends  her  slave  or 
freedman  to  the  Forum  every  day  to  bring  home  a  special 
copy.  Its  items  will  focus  the  conversation  at  a  thousand 
dinner  tables. 

Finally  this  publication  will  enjoy  a  certain  degree  of  his- 
toric importance.  Afte/  each  issue  has  served  its  daily  pur- 
pose, fair  copies  are  'deposited  in  the  Public  Record  Office, 
and  here  they  can  be  consulted  many  years  later  by  the 
learned.  It  is  from  the  files  of  the  Acta  Diurna  that  Tacitus 
and  Suetonius  have  apparently  drawn  a  great  many  of 
their  anecdotes  about  the  days  of  the  early  Emperors. 

1  Both  of  these  are  actual  cases  from  the  reign  of  Augustus. 





244.  History  of  the  Palatine :  its  Purchase  by  Augustus. 
—  There  is  one  other  great  quarter  of  Rome,  from  the  politi- 
cal standpoint  the  most  important  of  all,  the  Palatine. 

The  Palatine  originally  was  a  hill  of  modest  height,  in 
shape  fairly  rectangular,  some  1400  feet  on  the  side.  Here 
according  to  firm  tradition  was  that  first  settlement  by  the 
Alban  shepherds  led  out  by  Romulus.  "the  hill  seems  to 
have  been  encompassed  by  its  own  crude  wall,  and  presently 
it  figured  as  the  earliest  "  Rome,"  often  called  from  its 
squarish  configuration  Roma  Quadrata.  Time  fails  to  count 
the  various  memorials  such  as  the  "  House  of  Romulus," 
alleged  to  have  survived  since  this  primitive  time.  Note 
should  be  made,  however,  of  certain  small  but  very  old  tem- 
ples such  as  those  of  Victoria,  Viriplaca,  and  Orbona,1 
which  are  now  carefully  preserved  amid  surroundings  of 
artificial  magnificence. 

After  the  growth  of  the  Republic  the  Palatine  became  one 
of  the  most  fashionable  residence  sections  of  the  city.  Public 
leaders  liked  to  mount  the  roofs  of  their  mansions  and  see 
the  whole  Forum  with  the  familiar  Senate  House  spread 
out  at  their  feet.  Here  were  erected  the  earliest  of  those 
sumptuous  mansions  wherein  the  aristocracy  invested  their 
spoils  from  the  great  conquests.  Marcus  Scaurus  had  his 
pretentious  dwelling  on  the  Palatine,  and  so  did  Catiline, 

'Old  Latin  goddeww. 


The  Government  Offices 


and  Marcus  Antonlus,  and  Cicero.  Last  but  not  least, 
Hortensius  the  Orator,  Cicero's  professional  rival,  erected 
an  extremely  fine  dwelling  here  shortly  before  his  death  in 
50  B.C.,  which  mansion  was  later  purchased  by  Augustus 
when  he  had  assumed  the  government  and  desired  a  suitable 


ARCH  OF  TITUS  :  part  of  Palatine  visible  to  the  left. 

residence ;  and  thus  it  was  that  the  Palatine  became  the 
"  Palace  "  of  the  Emperors. 

245.  Extension  of  the  Imperial  Buildings :  Central  Posi- 
tion of  the  Palatine.  —  Augustus,  posing  merely  as  the  "  First 
Citizen  "  among  his  fellow  Quirites,  and  with  a  studious 
abhorrence  of  the  outward  forms  of  monarchy,  had  avoided 
establishing  anything  like  an  Imperial  court ;  but  he  was,  of 
course,  entitled  to  a  large  senatorial  mansion.  In  addition 
to  his  private  residence  elaborate  offices  had  also  to  be  pro- 
vided for  the  great  corps  of  secretaries  and  clerks  through 





244.  History  of  the  Palatine :  its  Purchase  by  Augustus. 
—  There  is  one  other  great  quarter  of  Rome,  from  the  politi- 
cal standpoint  the  most  important  of  all,  the  Palatine. 

The  Palatine  originally  was  a  hill  of  modest  height,  in 
shape  fairly  rectangular,  some  1400  feet  on  the  side.  Here 
according  to  firm  tradition  was  that  first  settlement  by  the 
Alban  shepherds  led  out  by  Romulus.  The  hill  seems  to 
have  been  encompassed  by  its  own  crude  wall,  and  presently 
it  figured  as  the  earliest  "  Rome,"  often  called  from  its 
squarish  configuration  Roma  Quadrata.  Time  fails  to  count 
the  various  memorials  such  as  the  u  House  of  Romulus/' 
alleged  to  have  survived  since  this  primitive  time.  Note 
should  be  made,  however,  of  certain  small  but  very  old  tem- 
ples such  as  those  of  Victoria,  Viriplaca,  and  Orbona,1 
which  are  now  carefully  preserved  amid  surroundings  of 
artificial  magnificence. 

After  the  growth  of  the  Republic  the  Palatine  became  one 
of  the  most  fashionable  residence  sections  of  the  city.  Public 
leaders  liked  to  mount  the  roofs  of  their  mansions  and  see 
the  whole  Forum  with  the  familiar  Senate  House  spread 
out  at  their  feet.  Here  were  erected  the  earliest  of  those 
sumptuous  mansions  wherein  the  aristocracy  invested  their 
spoils  from  the  great  conquests.  Marcus  Scaurus  had  his 
pretentious  dwelling  on  the  Palatine,  and  so  did  Catiline, 

*  Old  Latin  goddeMw. 


The  Government  Offices 


and  Marcus  Antonius,  and  Cicero.  Last  but  not  least, 
Hortensius  the  Orator,  Cicero's  professional  rival,  erected 
an  extremely  fine  dwelling  here  shortly  before  his  death  in 
50  B.C.,  which  mansion  was  later  purchased  by  Augustus 
when  he  had  assumed  the  government  and  desired  a  suitable 


ARCH  OF  TITUS  :  part  of  Palatine  visible  to  the  left. 

residence ;  and  thus  it  was  that  the  Palatine  became  the 
"  Palace  "  of  the  Emperors. 

245.  Extension  of  the  Imperial  Buildings :  Central  Posi- 
tion of  the  Palatine.  —  Augustus,  posing  merely  as  the  "  First 
Citizen  "  among  his  fellow  Quirites,  and  with  a  studious 
abhorrence  of  the  outward  forms  of  monarchy,  had  avoided 
establishing  anything  like  an  Imperial  court ;  but  he  was,  of 
course,  entitled  to  a  large  senatorial  mansion.  In  addition 
to  his  private  residence  elaborate  offices  had  also  to  be  pro- 
vided for  the  great  corps  of  secretaries  and  clerks  through 

288  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

whom  he  governed  half  the  provinces  and  controlled  the  army. 
This  corps  of  bureaucrats  has  grown  with  every  new  accretion 
to  imperial  power;  furthermore,  Augustus's  pretence  of 
democratic  simplicity  has  been  utterly  discarded  following  the 
extravagances  of  Caligula  and  Nero. 

One  enormous  building  has,  therefore,  been  added  to 
another.  The  last  private  dwellings  upon  the  hill  have  been 
condemned,  and  the  Caesars  now  control  every  inch  of  the 
Palatine,  making  it  so  completely  the  abode  of  majesty  that 
"  palace  "  will  remain  across  the  centuries  as  the  name  for 
any  seat  of  princely  authority. 

246.  Commanding  View  from  the  Palatine  Hill.  —  This  is 
the  smallest  of  the  Seven  Hills,  but  it  is  the  real  focus  of  the 
other  six,  which  "  seem  to  surround  it  with  their  homage,  as 
being  their  king."    It  is  so  close  to  the  Capitol  that  the 
crazy  Caligula  erected  a  bridge  (now  long  demolished)  leading 
from  his  mansion  clear  over  to  the  Temple  of  Capitoline 
Jove,  in  order  that  he  might  frequently  "  go  and  visit  his 
friend  Jupiter."    The  view  from  the  crest  of  the  palace 
structures  is  superb :  northward  across  the  Forum,  and  all 
the  thickly  clustered  roofs  on  the  slopes  of  the  Quirinal,  Vim- 
inal,  and  Esquiline,  westward  to  the  Capitol  where  the 
magnificent  temples  seem  within  a  stone's  toss,  southward 
across  the  great  hollow  of  the  Circus  Maximus  and  then 
across  to  the  densely  covered  Aventine.    Whether  the  Em- 
peror desires  to  harangue  the  Senate,  to  sacrifice  to  the  greater 
gods,  or  to  grace  the  chariot  races  —  Curia,  temples,  or 
circus  are  all  close  at  hand ;  with  the  Flavian  Amphitheater 
to  the  northeast,  almost  equally  near. 

247.  Magnificence  of  the  Palatine  Structures.  —  But  the 
Palatine  itself  is  perhaps  the  most  glorious  sight  of  all. 
It  rises  above  the  city  two  and  three  hundred  feet  to  its  upper 
parapets,  lifting  itself  on  several  tiers  of  arches  and  pillared 
stories  which  gleam  with  marble  below  and  present  a  perfect 

The  Government  Offices 


treasure  house  of  gilded  tiling  above.  Under  the  morning 
light  with  the  sun  flashing  the  gold  of  the  multitudinous  domes 
back  into  the  clear  azure  the  whole  effect  is  incomparable. 
The  natural  foundations  of  the  hill  are  covered  with  enor- 
mous substructures  of  masonry  and  concrete,  and  these  are 
continued  by  long  tiers  of  many-arched  buildings  which  house 
the  great  government  bureaus  and  ministries.  Crowning 
these  can  be  seen  equally  long  forests  of  columns,  upbearing 

PALATINE  AND  PALACE  OF  THE  CAESARS:  restoration  by  Spandoni. 

a  whole  complex  of  gabled  roofs  covered  not  merely  with  the 
gilded  tiles,  but  with  a  whole  legion  of  gilded  or  richly  toned 
bronze  statues.  Here  and  there  show  forth  bits  of  green- 
ery and  foliage  betraying  the  gardens  and  the  parks  re- 
served for  the  Lords  of  the  World. 

The  effect  of  this  entire  mass  is  overpowering.  The  eye 
wearies  of  counting  the  sweeping  porticoes,  tall  monoliths, 
colossal  statues,  and  quadrigas.  The  result  is  also  enhanced 
by  the  use  of  great  numbers  of  huge  awnings,  hung  over 
nearly  every  opening  and  window,  usually  made  in  brilliant 


A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

colors,  with  the  imperial  purple  very  conspicuous.    There 
will  never  be  another  Palatine  in  the  history  of  the  world. 

248.  The  More  Famous  Buildings  on  the  Palatine: 
Enormous  Display  of  Art  Objects.  —  This  vast  residence 
compound  —  it  cannot  be  called  a  single  building  —  can 
be  reached  by  a  number  of  inclined  planes  or  stairways  upon 
all  four  sides.  Access  is  easy  enough  and  crowds  of  slaves, 
plebeians,  and  nobles  are  incessantly  coming  and  going,  al- 
though a  couple  of  Praeto- 
rians loll  carelessly  on  their 
spear-shafts  beside  each  in- 
gress. Possibly  the  easiest 
entrance  is  by  the  Clixus 
Victoria  ("  Ascent  of  Vic- 
tory ")  which  starts  upward 
from  the  edge  of  the  Old 
Forum  very  near  to  the 
Shrine  of  Vesta. 

To  find  one's  way  about 
the  Palatine  is,  however,  far 
more  difficult  than  about 
the  fora.  It  is  not,  of 
course,  an  area  but  a  jumble 
of  buildings,  all  splendid,  but  often  thrust  upon  one  another 
without  any  real  system.  Augustus  added  extensively  to 
the  old  house  of  Hortensius,  and  particularly  he  built 
a  very  pretentious  Temple  to  Apollo.  Tiberius,  the  next 
Emperor,  added  a  new  wing,  the  Domus  Tiberiana,  almost 
doubling  the  bulk  of  the  former  structures.  Caligula  thrust 
on  more  buildings  still.  Across  the  ages  will  be  pointed 
out  that  Cryptoporticus,  the  twisting  underground  gallery 
connecting  parts  of  the  palaces,  where  the  stout  tribune 
Cherea  struck  down  and  slew  the  insane  despot,  January 
24th,  41  A.D.,  to  the  great  profit  of  the  entire  world.  Nero 

ROMAN  URN  c  typical  art  object. 

The  Government  Offices  291 

added  other  wings  and  structures,  some  of  which  had  to  be 
rebuilt  after  his  great  fire.  Finally,  Domitian  added  a 
whole  series  of  enormous  halls,  baths,  banqueting  rooms, 
and  government  offices.  The  Palatine  is  now  virtually  com- 
plete: Trajan  and  Hadrian  have  erected  their  monuments 
elsewhere,  and  so  will  most  of  the  later  Emperors.1 

We  do  not  propose  to  explore  all  these  buildings  hi  so  vast 
a  complex.  It  is  enough  that  one  superb  court  or  facade 
follows  another;  that  almost  every  hall  and  anteroom  is  of 
sumptuous  splendor;  that  veined  marbles,  porphyry,  elab- 
orate bas-reliefs,  and  profuse  gilding  seem  multiplied  until 
they  become  commonplace.  All  the  artificiality  and  over- 
elaborate  art  of  the  age  seems  concentrated  around  the 
Palatine.  Within  the  great  substructures  and  the  arched 
terraces  which  bear  up  the  more  important  buildings,  even 
in  the  cells  for  the  slaves  and  the  offices  for  the  toiling  clerks 
there  are  fine  frescos  and  handsome  stucco  reliefs. 

249.  The  Triclinium  and  Throne  Room  of  Domitian.  — 
As  for  some  of  the  special  areas  and  chambers,  they  justify 
the  praises  of  the  servile  court  poets :  "  Olympian "  is  the 
mildest  word  which  they  can  use.  Take,  for  example,  the 
port;coes  of  Domitian.  On  the  inner  side  of  their  vast  length, 
they  are  lined  throughout  with  marble  so  Highly  polished 
that  it  shines  like  mirrors.  What  matter  if  the  original 
cause  for  their  use  was  the  desire  of  the  suspicious  tyrant  to 
have  a  promenade  wherein  nobody  could  glide  upon  him 
without  warning  from  behind.  The  result  is  indescribably 
brilliant.  But  let  us  go  rather  into  the  "  House  of  Domitian  " 
itself,  and  inspect  the  great  banqueting  hall,  the  Triclin- 
ium. "  The  gods  themselves  might  quaff  their  nectar 
there !  "  cried  the  enraptured  Martial. 

1  The  only  important  addition  after  Domitian  was  made  by  Septimius 
Severus,  who,  about  200  A.D.,  built  the  very  lofty  Septizonium,  a  new 
palace  at  the  southeast  corner  of  the  hill. 

292  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

This  magnificent  apartment  leads  off  from  a  marvelous 
peristyle-court  of  more  than  10,000  square  feet  in  area.  The 
chamber  itself  is  not  huge,  but  is  arranged  so  that  three  tables 
(each  for  nine  guests)  can  be  placed  laterally  along  the  walls, 
with  the  third,  opposite  the  door  of  entry,  for  the  Emperor 
and  his  chief  guests.  Twenty-seven  dignitaries  thus  can 
dine  together.  On  each  side  of  the  hall  five  large  windows 
are  separated  by  massive  columns  of  red  granite. 

As  the  guests  of  majesty  repose  on  their  silken  cushions 
they  can  see  between  the  columns  still  another  court  where 
water  is  softly  gushing  from  a  fountain,  and  purling  in  a  small 
cascade  over  steps  of  marble,  verdure,  and  flowers.  The 
ornamentation  may  be  grievously  overdone ;  the  taste  of  some 
of  the  reliefs  and  wall  pictures  is  questionable,  but  the  effect 
of  the  sheen  from  the  many  colored  marbles,  the  gilding,  and 
the  heavy  fret  work  around  the  lofty  dome  undeniably  justi- 
fies all  the  enthusiasm  of  the  verse-mongers. 

Equally  striking  is  the  Throne  Room  built  by  Domitian. 
It  is  called  the  tablinum  as  in  humbler  dwellings,  but  it  is 
actually  used  for  great  state  audiences.  It  is  a  hall  of  im- 
posing size.  You  enter  past  the  guards,  and  directly  across 
the  broad  area  is  a  niche  where  sits  "  Caesar  Augustus  " 
upon  a  gilded  dais  and  curule-chair,  every  whit  as  truly  a 
throne  as  that  of  the  Great  King  of  Parthia.  The  walls  of 
the  room  are  covered  with  extraordinarily  costly  marbles, 
and  around  the  circuit  rise  twenty-eight  Corinthian  columns 
of  intricate  workmanship.  Eight  large  niches  contain  as 
many  colossal  statues  wrought  of  adamantine  basalt,  and 
a  Hercules  and  a  Bacchus  are  particularly  noteworthy. 
The  entrance  door  is  flanked  by  two  enormous  columns  of 
gidlo  antico,  deep  yellow  marble  flushed  with  pink,  imported 
from  Numidia.  The  threshold  is  a  single  immense  slab 
of  a  whiter  marble  brought  from  Greece. 

Words  thus  exhaust  themselves  describing  these  grandiose, 

The  Government  Offices  293 

overpowering,  magnificent  courts,  halls,  and  apartments.  We 
can  perforce  ignore  such  features  as  the  separate  hippodrome 
and  the  luxurious  gardens  reserved  for  imperial  amusement 
or  recreation.  Better  it  is  to  concentrate  attention  upon  the 
human  life  wherewith  the  Palatine  ordinarily  abounds. 

250.  Swarms  of  Civil  Officials  Always  on  the  Palatine.  — 
All  the  Palatine  revolves  around  the  Emperor.  Rome  is 
not  yet  governed  by  an  unabashed  despotism,  yet  it  would 
be  hard  to  name  a  deed  that  a  king  of  old  Babylon  could 
perform  which  a  Princeps  et  Imperator  could  not  perpetrate 
if  his  heart  really  desired,  although  certain  restraints  and 
decencies  make  this  absolutism  endurable  save  under  a 
Nero  or  a  Domitian. 

The  thousands  of  persons  who  dwell  upon  or  are  employed 
upon  the  Palatine  are  all  employed  with  one  of  two  things, 
the  imperial  court  or  the  imperial  public  service.  Since 
Hadrian  (despite  the  grumblings  of  his  Italian  subjects)  is 
still  absent  from  Rome  the  court  ceremonial  has  practically 
ceased.  A  few  of  the  Emperor's  relatives  dwell  in  gilded 
ease  in  certain  wings  of  the  palace,  but  except  for  the  care- 
takers the  great  army  of  self-sufficient  slaves  and  still  more 
self-sufficient  freedmen  who  act  as  valets,  cooks,  waiters, 
musicians,  chamberlains,  and  in  every  other  menial  capacity, 
can  eat,  play  dice,  and  discuss  the  races  in  idleness. 

Now  as  always,  however,  the  imperial  public  service  which 
sends  its  impulse  to  the  remotest  borders  of  Dacia,  Syria,  or 
Britain  is  functioning  actively,  and  most  of  the  vast  bureaus 
and  ministries  haye  huge  offices  upon  the  Palatine.  The 
Praetorian  Prsefect,  as  high  judge  for  the  Emperor's  half 
of  the  provinces,  daily  mounts  his  supreme  tribunal.  The 
four  Imperial  Secretaries  for  Finance,  for  Petitions,  and  for 
Official  Correspondence  (one  for  the  Greek  provinces  and 
one  for  the  Latin)  direct  their  great  corps  of  subordinates. 
The  chief  Procurators  (Superintendents)  of  the  enormous 

294  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

Imperial  Estates  all  over  the  Empire  are  receiving  reports 
and  protecting  their  masters'  interests ;  and  so  with  a  great 
body  of  other  high  officials. 

The  huge  administrative  machine  perfected  by  the  practical 
Roman  genius  is  running  steadily  —  so  steadily  that  even 
under  a  very  bad  Emperor,  even  a  Nero,  it  will  function  for 
years  with  no  great  harm  to  the  governed  millions.  The 
only  condition  is  that  th$  tyrant  will  reserve  his  cruelties  for 
the  nobility  and  refrain  from  tactless  interference  with  the 
secretaries  instead  of  indulging  merely  in  vicious  personal 

251.  The  Emperor  Center  of  High  Social  Life.  —  Into 
these  high  political  concerns  we  dare  not  enter,  but  the  social 
life  of  the  Palace  cannot  be  so  well  ignored.  Already  the 
imperial  freedmen  are  busy  planning  the  great  receptions  and 
state  banquets  which  Hadrian  must  give  soon  after  his 
return.  In  half  the  atria  of  Rome  men  and  women  are  dis- 
cussing vigorously,  "  When  '  Caesar  '  returns  will  he  have 
any  new  '  Friends/  and  will  he  have  discontinued  any  old 

Already  it  is  rumored  that  certain  freedmen  (supposedly 
in  their  lord's  confidence)  have  received  a  great  bribe  to 
get  them  to  induce  the  "  Dominus  "  (so  loyal  etiquette 
calls  the  monarch)  to  summon  back  to  favor  a  certain  Jallius, 
an  indiscreet  senator  whom,  on  his  last  sojourn  in  Rome, 
Hadrian  had  ordered  excluded  from  his  personal  receptions. 
Rome  is  a  city  of  rumors,  but  nowhere  do  these  abound  more 
than  about  the  Palatine,  always  centering  on  the  doings, 
words,  and  even  the  health  of  the  Emperor.  "Smoke" 
from  the  valets,  barbers,  and  tablenservitors  of  the  Augustus 

1  As  is,  of  course,  well  known,  such  emperors  as  Tiberius,  Nero,  and 
Domitian  were  popular  with,  the  provinces,  which  were  usually  weU 
governed  under  them.  Their  cruelties  smote  mainly  upon  the  senatorial 

The  Government  Offices  295 

can  often  be  sold  for  precious  aurei.  Self-respecting  mon- 
archs  punish  the  tale-bearers  pitilessly,  but  the  latter  can 
seldom  be  caught  in  the  act.1  Every  Emperor  knows  that  he 
is  the  constant  victim  of  outrageous  tattling. 

262.  Friends  of  Caesar  (Amid  Caesaris).  —  But  an  Em- 
peror's company  is  not  confined  to  menials ;  neither  does  he 
spend  all  his  time  at  council  with  his  ministers.  Being  a 
Roman  among  Romans  he  is  forced  to  spend  a  good  deal  of 
his  day  receiving  the  social  attentions  of  those  who  proudly 
list  themselves  as  his  "  Friends." 

To  be  an  Amieus  Ccesaris,  to  be  entitled  to  greet  as  a  kind 
of  social  equal  the  personage  who  is  worshiped  as  a  god  in 
all  the  Oriental  provinces,  who  is  (by  adoption  in  Hadrian's 
case)  the  son  of  a  Divinity,  the  "  Deified  Trajan/'  and  whose 
own  "  divine  genius  "  (guardian  spirit)  receives  prayer  and 
incense  in  every  government  building  —  this  honor  seems 
almost  dazzling.  Every  Emperor  ranks  his  "  Friends " 
in  two  classes  —  "  First  Class  Friends,"  great  secretaries, 
ministers,  and  generals  who  must  have  constant  access  to 
his  cabinet,  certain  very  distinguished  members  of  the  Sen- 
ate, certain  near  relatives,  and  also  a  few  congenial  personal 
companions — poets,  and  philosophers,  with  great  Emperors, 
or  jockeys,  gamesters,  and  debauchees  with  the  bad;  and 
"  Second  Class  Friends,"  which  great  catalogue  includes  all 
the  rest  of  the  Senate,  many  of  the  more  distinguished  equites, 
and  a  select  sprinkling  of  such  plebeians  as  Caesar  delights 
to  honor. 

The  First  Class  Friends,  it  is  true,  pay  for  their  glory  by  a 
heavy  obligation  —  to  appear  at  the  Palace  every  morning 
usually  before  daylight,  and  greet  the  Lord  of  the  World 

1  About  230  A.D.  Alexander  Sevenis  caught  a  palace  menial  selling 
gossip,  and  had  Mm  executed  by  being  burned  in  a  fire  of  damp  wood. 
"He  is  punished  by  smoke/'  said  the  irate  monarch,  "who  sold 

296  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

while  he  sits  up  in  bed  and  is  dressed  by  his  valets.1  Very 
much  of  state  business  is  then  transacted,  but  the  obligation 
to  appear  merely  to  say  an  "Ave"  is  imperative  provided 
the  Emperor  is  in  his  residence.  Sometimes  merely  to  avoid 
giving  gouty  ministers  great  inconvenience  Hadrian  has 
been  known  considerately  to  pass  the  night  away  from  the 
Palace  in  order  to  dispense  with  the  ceremonial  in  the  morn- 

253.  The  Imperial  Audiences. — After  the  Emperor  has 
been  clad  with  due  ceremony,  has  conversed  with  his  inti- 
mates, and  perhaps  has  sealed  some  urgent  rescripts,  he  is 
ready  for  the  morning  audience.     A  full  cohort  (1000  men)  of 
the  Praetorian  Guard  is  always  on  service  at  the  Palace  and  a 
platoon  of  these  without  armor,  but  in  magnificent  cloaks, 
stands  by  the  entrance  to  the  hall  of  state.    Only  men  as  a 
rule  are  admitted.2    Under  certain  evil  or  very  suspicious 
Emperors  such  as  Claudius  there  has  been  the  humiliating 
custom  of  searching  every  visitor  (whatever  his  rank)  for 
weapons,  ere  admission;   but  that  abomination  has  ceased 
at  last,  beginning  with  Nerva. 

In  the  broad  courts  before  the  audience  chamber  some  doz- 
ens of  senators  dismount  from  their  litters  every  morning 
when  the  monarch  is  in  Rome,  and  sometimes  the  delay  ere 
the  doors  are  opened  is  so  long  that  much  personal  business 
can  be  transacted  and  philosophical  disquisitions  indulged 
in.  Second  Class  Friends  do  not  have  to  appear  every  morn- 
ing, but  it  is  a  serious  error  to  fail  to  use  your  entree  fairly 

254.  Social  Ruin  through  Imperial  Disfavor.  —  The  pro- 
cess resembles  that  with  the  clients  in  the  noble  16rds3  own 

1  The  ceremony  was  not  unlike  that  of  the  leote  of  French  kings  like 
Louis  XTV,  under  the  Old  Regime  before  1789. 

*  The  Empresses  would  give  a  similar  reception,  however,  to  the  wives 
of  their  husbands'  "Friends." 

The  Government  Offices  297 

houses  a  little  earlier  in  the  day,  although  with  greater 
solemnity  and  formality.1  A  group  of  gorgeously  dressed 
"  admissioners  "  (admissionales)  keep  the  doors,  and  scan 
every  applicant  closely,  but  besides  the  regular  Friends  they 
frequently  admit  certain  distinguished  visitors  from  the  prov- 
inces, especially  members  of  those  provincial  delegations  that 
are  always  junketing  to  Rome  to  proffer  the  homage  of  their 
district  to  the  Emperor,  or  to  present  some  kind  of  a  public 

The  last  day  that  Hadrian  gave  audience  ere  leaving  Rome, 
when  our  friend  Calvus  waited  upon  him,  there  was  an  awk- 
ward happening.  A  very  roistering  and  immoral  young 
nobleman,  Calvisius,  presented  himself  when  the  doors  were 
opened,  whereupon  an  imperial  freedman  took  him  by  the 
arm,  announcing :  "  You  are  no  longer  admitted  to  the  pal- 
ace." Calvisius  instantly  slunk  away,  overwhelmed  by  his 
calamity.  He  would  have  suffered  less  if  he  had  forfeited  half 
his  fortune. 

Even  worse  was  in  store  for  the  aforementioned  Jallius, 
who  was  said  to  have  mocked  at  Hadrian's  pretentious  as  an 
art  critic  (a  tender  point)  while  over-drunk  at  a  dinner  party. 
He  was  suffered  indeed  to  enter  and  to  approach  the 
imperial  seat :  "  Am,  Caesar  !  "  he  called  out  boldly,  hoping 
that  his  indiscretion  had  been  unnoticed.  "  Vale*  Jattie!"* 
("  Good-by,  Jallius  ")  answered  the  monarch,  turning  his  face 
from  him.  The  insult  was  offered  in  the  presence  of  at  least 

1  Sometimes,  with  an  affectation  of  democracy,  almost  any  decently 
clad  person  would  be  admitted  to  present  petitions  or  merely  to  pay 
respects.  Servile  prostrations  before  the  Emperor  were  not  encouraged 
under  the  Early  Principate ;  once  when  a  petitioner  went  through  great 
bowings  and  scrapings  while  presenting  a  scroll  to  Augustus,  the  latter 
cried  testily,  "You  act  as  if  you  were  presenting  some  money  to  an 

1  This  was  the  form  used  by  Augustus  in  announcing  to  Fabius  Maxi- 
mus  the  withdrawal  of  imperial  favor. 


A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

fifty  tale-bearers  and  that  night  it  was  over  Rome.  Under  a 
bad  Emperor,  Jallius's  life  would  have  been  in  sore  jeopardy, 
and  as  it  was  he  was  socially  ruined;  every  time-serving 
nobleman  closed  his  house  to  him  and  his  innocent  wife  and 

children  shared  his  ostra- 
cism. His  only  hope  now 
is  that  when  Hadrian  re- 
turns he  can  be  induced  to 
let  Jallius  call  again,  and 
will  answer  affably  "  Aw!" 
to  the  visitor's  greeting. 
Then  the  poor  senator  can 
hold  up  his  head  in  the 

265.  Enormous  Value  of 
Imperial  Favor.  —  On  the 
other  hand  Calvus  returned 
walking  on  air  from  this  par- 
ticular audience.  The  Em- 
peror answered  his  greeting 
by  calling  him  "  My  very 
dear  Calvus  "  ;  then  asked, 
"  And  how  are  your  Gratia 
and  the  boys  ?  "  and  actu- 
ally added,  "  Do  you  think 
Gallinas,  the  Thracian,  is 
going  to  be  a  good  match 
for  Syrus  in  the  arena?  "  —  finally,  throwing  in  the  sage  ad- 
vice, "  These  morning  frosts  now  are  sharp  if  you  don't 
dress  warmly."  l 

When  Calvus  quitted  the  hall  all  his  friends  swarmed 
around  congratulating  him  on  "  the  remarkable  favor  of  the 

1  Polite  chatter,  as  reported  by  Horace,  such  as  was  vouchsafed  by 
Augustus  and  his  great  associate  Maecenas,  to  their  social  favorites. 

CAESAR  AUGUSTUS  :    showing   cos- 
tume of  a  Roman  general. 

The  Government  Offices  299 

Emperor,"  and  intimating  that  he  was  surely  destined  to 
be  Consul  within  a  few  years  and  then  the  imperial  legate 
of  a  great  province.  He  can  hardly  persuade  them  that  he 
has  received  no  private  information  about  the  boundary 
settlement  with  Parthia  and  the  terms  being  offered  the  chiefs 
of  the  Quadi.  In  fact  the  imperial  looks  and  moods  are 
studied  as  carefully  as  is  the  weather.  "  Did  he  frown  or 
look  pleased  when  so  and  so  was  mentioned  ?  "  "  Did  he 
offer  his  cheek  graciously  to  be  kissed  by  that  ex-consul?  " 
"  Did  he  invite  the  chiefs  of  the  delegation  from  Provincial 
Asia  to  dinner?"  "Did  he  cast  down  his  eyes  gloomily 

when  they  said  N was  about  to  be  tried  to-morrow  in 

the  Senate  ?  "  No  marvel  if  bad  Emperors  are  easily  per- 
suaded that  they  are  gods  on  earth,  and  even  good  Emperors 
have  to  strive  hard  not  to  allow  their  heads  to  be  turned ! 

Hadrian  is  still  away  from  Rome,  and  both  First  Class 
Friends  and  Second  Class  Friends  are  probably  a  little  re- 
lieved not  to  have  to  play  the  client  to  him.  If  the  days  of 
bloody  tyranny  seem  past,  the  fate  of  poor  Jallius  can  still 
overtake  almost  any  of  them.1  But  though  the  vast  hall  of 
audience  stands  vacant  save  for  gaping  sightseers,  there  are 
plenty  of  distinguished  visitors  upon  the  Palatine  come  to 
transact  business  at  the  imperial  ministries,  or  very  likely 
at  the  great  offices  of  the  City  Prsefect  (Prasfectus  Urbi),  who 
is  essentially  the  Mayor  of  Rome. 

266.  City  Government  of  Rome :  the  City  Praefect 
(Praefectus  Urbi).  —  It  was  one  of  the  greatest  sins  of  the 
defunct  Republic  that  it  permitted  Rome  to  grow  until  it 
became  an  enormous  metropolis  without  providing  any 

1  Hadrian,  although  not  a  bloody  man,  was  so  averse  to  being  opposed 
in  argument  that  the  philosopher  Favorinus,  with  whom  he  took  issue  on 
a  point  in  etymology,  promptly  announced  that  "Caesar  was  correct," 
and  so  ended  the  discussion  amiably.  "But  you  were  really  correct," 
protested  Favorinus's  friends  afterward.  M  Ah ! "  replied  he  with  a  laugh, 
"  the  master  of  thirty  legions  must  be  allowed  to  know  better." 

300  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

respectable  police  force,  fire  department,  or  other  efficient 
means  of  securing  law,  order,  and  public  safety.  The  old 
adiles  (commissioners  of  public  works)  were  overburdened 
men,  with  imperfect  authority,  few  constables,  and  great 
political  interests.  In  the  days  of  Cicero  great  fires,  great 
riots,  and  serious  crimes  occurred  almost  daily.  In  self- 
protection  many  prominent  men  had  actually  to  arm  their 
slaves  in  regular  companies  and  even  to  hire  the  assistance 
of  armed  bands  of  gladiators.  Augustus  ended  all  this. 
Thanks  to  him,  Rome  has  become  one  of  the  best  policed 
and  protected  cities  in  the  world. 

The  old  aediles l  are  now  supplemented  and  largely  super- 
seded by  a  corps  of  officials  all  named  by  the  Emperor, 
for  indefinite  terms  and  removable  by  him  at  pleasure.  At 
their  head  is  that  high  "  Clarissimus,"  the  City  Prefect. 
He  is  always  a  senator  who  has  held  the  consulship,  and  who 
often  has  governed  great  provinces.  To  be  named  City 
Praefect  is  almost  the  highest  civil  honor  in  gift  of  the  Caesars, 
and  it  ordinarily  comes  to  a  veteran  nobleman  of  approved 
experience  and  integrity.  He  is  really  in  part  a  military 
officer  because  at  his  command  stand  the  "  City  Cohorts," 
the  regular  armed  garrison  of  Rome,  four  Cohorts  of  reliable 
troops,  one  thousand  men  in  each,  ready  to  assist  the  ordi- 
nary police  in  repressing  rioting. 

The  City  Prefect  is  responsible  for  the  general  good  order 
of  the  metropolis;  it  is  his  business  not  merely  to  punish 
evil,  but  to  take  measures  to  prevent  it,  e.g.  by  breaking  up 
illicit  societies  and  assemblies,  such  as  those  of  the  "  debased  " 
Christians.  In  conjunction  with  the  other  magistrates  he 
also  takes  measures  to  keep  down  the  price  of  provisions. 
In  addition  he  is  the  high  judge  in  most  cases  arising  around 
Rome,  which  are  not  especially  reserved  to  other  tribunals. 

1  These  old  "Republican"  officers,  now  six  in  number,  retained  a 
certain  control  of  the  public  markets,  baths,  taverns,  etc. 

The  Government  Offices  301 

Particularly  he  and  his  deputies  have  jurisdiction  over  cases 
involving  outrageous  usury,  betrayal  of  trust  by  guardians, 
unfilial  conduct  of  children,  and  disrespect  shown  to  patrons 
by  freedmen.  And  to  his  court  go  all  the  charges  of  serious 
crimes  sure  to  arise  in  a  great  city,  barring,  however,  lesser 
police  court  cases  —  these  last  falling  to  his  colleague,  the 
Prefect  of  the  Watch. 

257.  The  Municipal  Superintendents  and  Commissioners 
(Curator es).  —  Aiding  the  City  Prefect  are  several  high 
superintendents  or  commissioners  usually  of  at  least  pre- 
torian  rank  among  the  senators.  The  two  "  Curators  of  the 
Public  Works  "  obviously  have  to  look  after  the  municipal 
buildings  and  especially  the  temples  and  the  considerable 
endowments  often  attached  to  them.  The  Prefect  of  the 
Grain  Supply  (Proefectus  Annonce)  is  a  magistrate  who  — 
in  view  of  the  importance  of  his  function  (see  p.  242)  —  will 
often  be  chosen  with  almost  as  great  an  eye  to  his  efficiency 
as  the  City  Prefect. 

Besides  the  corps  of  agents  collecting  grain  in  the  provinces, 
the  special  deputy  at  Ostia,  the  "  Official  Grain  Measurers," 
the  "  Grain  Magazine-Keepers  "  (horrearii) ,  and  the  staff  of 
clerks  and  porters,  all  the  bakers  of  the  city  also  are  under 
the  Prefect  of  the  Grain  Supply,  and  he  can  sit  as  high  judge 
in  all  cases,  criminal  and  civil,  where  the  provisioning  of  the 
city  is  affected.  As  for  the  Tiber,  it  is  so  often  bursting  its 
levees  and  flooding  the  lower  city  that  a  special  board  of 
five  senators,  "  Commissioners  for  the  Tiber,  River-Banks, 
and  the  Sewers/'  attends  alike  to  the  care  of  the  dikes  and 
also  to  the  great  sewer  system  which  drains  the  capital. 

258.  Excellent  Water  Supply  of  Rome.  —  An  official 
board  with  duties  of  the  first  order  is  that  of  the  "  Curators 
of  the  Water  Supply."  There  is  a  chief  curator  and  two  as- 
sistants, and  since  the  task  calls  for  expert  professional  knowl- 


A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

edge,  these  are  not  senators  but  imperial  freedmen,  or  at  the 
highest  only  equites.  No  sinecure,  however,  is  their  task. 
Justly  are  the  Romans  proud  of  the  excellent  water  supply  of 
the  imperial  city.  As  early  as  Augustus's  time  Strabo  the 
geographer  warned  his  fellow  Greeks  that  while  they  could 
boast  that  their  cities  excelled  the  Roman  in  artistic  adorn- 
ments, Rome  rejoiced  in  a  far  better  water  system,  in  better 


pavements,  and  in  better  sewers.  Certain  of  the  latter,  he 
declared  in  admiration,  were  "  arched  over  with  hewn  stone 
and  were  so  large  that  in  some  parts  hay  wagons  can  drive 
straight  through  them !  " 

By  Hadrian's  day  the  aqueducts  supplying  the  city  have 
become  wholly  admirable.  Time  fails  us  to  go  out  into  the 
Campagna  or  to  the  distant  hills  and  see  how,  by  gravity 
alone,  and  without  the  aid  of  pumping  engines,  "  copious 
streams  are  conducted  great  distances  despite  the  obstacles 

The  Government  Offices  303 

presented  by  mountains,  valleys,  or  low-lying  level  plains, 
sometimes  rushing  along  in  vast  subterranean  tunnels,  at 
other  times  supported  on  long  ranges  of  lofty  arches,  the  re- 
mains of  which  [in  after  ages]  will  still  be  seen  spanning  the 
waste  of  the  Campagna."  [Lanciani.] 

There  is  difficulty  in  making  very  large  iron  pipes  capable 
of  standing  high  pressure  over  long  distances ;  and  as  a  re- 
sult the  Roman  engineers  prefer  to  carry  the  water  in  chan- 
nels lined  with  solid  cement  and  borne  across  the  open  ground 
on  a  vast  series  of  arches.  Besides,  most  of  the  good  water 
near  Rome  leaves  a  calcareous  deposit ;  and  it  is  much  easier 
to  clean  out  large  channels  than  an  underground  piping  sys- 

259.  The  Great  Aqueducts.  —  When  we  try  to  under- 
stand the  water  system  of  Rome  we  come  upon  astonishing 
figures  for  the  great  aqueducts.  There  are  nine  of  these 
huge  conduits  in  constant  use.  The  oldest  is  the  Aqua  Appia, 
built  in  312  B.C.  by  that  tough  old  censor,  Appius  Claudius, 
and  it  starts  only  about  eleven  miles  from  the  city,  with  nearly 
its  entire  bed  underground;  but  when  this  supply  proved 
inadequate  the  engineers  had  to  reach  much  farther  back 
into  the  hills  to  find  powerful  jets.  An  increasing  proportion 
of  the  channels  of  the  newer  aqueducts  has  also  to  be  on 
arches;  for  example,  the  Aqua  Julia,  built  by  Agrippa  in 
33  B.C.,  has  to  go  back  fifteen  and  a  half  miles,  and  six  and  a 
half  of  these  are  on  arches ;  while  the  Aqua  Claudia,  built 
about  40  A.D.,  is  no  less  than  forty-six  miles  long  with  nine 
and  a  half  on  elevated  arches.  There  are  two  others,  the 
older  Aqua  Marcia  and  the  slightly  newer  Aqua  Anio  Novus 
(taking  water  from  the  river  Anio),  that  are  not  much  shorter 
either  upon  the  ground  or  in  their  elevated  sections. 

Once  inside  the  city  this  enormous  volume  of  water  is  dis- 
tributed in  a  most  scientific  manner  according  to  a  scheme 
worked  out  by  the  mighty  Agrippa.  There  are  700  public 

304  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

pools  and  basins  and  500  public  fountains  drawing  their 
supply  from  130  collecting  heads  or  reservoirs.  Only  the 
poorest  or  tallest  tenement  houses,  consequently,  are  bereft 
of  a  water  supply,  clear,  sanitary,  and  abundant,  such  as 
most  later  cities  can  desire  in  vain  until  close  upon  the 
twentieth  century. 

260.  The  Police  System  Instituted  by  Augustus.  —  Al- 
most as  important,  however,  as  the  excellent  water  supply 
came  the  blessing  of  the  firm  police  system  instituted  by 
Augustus.     There  was  an  end  at  last  to  the  fearful  riots  and 
even  private  wars  of  the  later  Republic,  as  when  those 
cheerful  desperadoes  Clodius  and  Milo  played  at  being  the 
"  Hector  and  Achilles  of  the  Streets,"  and  ordinary  crime 
soon  became  comparatively  rare. 

The  city  has  also  been  divided  into  14  "  regions  "  (regiones) 
and  these  into  262  "  precincts  "  (vici)  distributed  among  the 
"  regions."  Each  vicus  is  in  theory  a  religious  unit.  It  has 
its  own  little  cedicula  (petty  temple)  containing  the  images 
of  the  two  guardian  Lares  of  the  neighborhood  plus  inevitably 
a  statue  of  the  Genius  of  the  Emperor.  Each  vicus  also  has 
its  two  special  curators,  worthy  tradesmen  usually,  elected 
by  their  fellow  wardsmen  and  clothed  with  enough  impor- 
tance to  make  the  office  desirable.  Their  chief  official  duty 
is  to  keep  up  the  sacred  rites  at  the  central  shrine  and  to  help 
to  compile  the  census  lists,  but  they  are  also  a  kind  of  local 
arbitrators  or  justices  of  the  peace  who  assist  the  police  and 
look  after  the  general  weal  of  the  precinet. 

261.  The   Police-Firemen  of  the  Watch    (vigiles):    the 
Praefectus  Vigilum.  —  However,  the  actual  security  of  Rome 
is  not  intrusted  to  any  such  unprofessional  guardians.     Au- 
gustus understood  clearly  the  need  of  an  effective  police 
force  apart  from  a  mere  armed  garrison ;  besides  he  had  to 
protect  the  capital  against  the  fearful  and  incessant  fires ; 

The  Government  Offices  305 

as  a  result  his  new  vigiles  ("  watchmen  ")•  were  a  combination 
of  policemen  and  firemen.  The  fourteen  regions  of  Rome 
have  now  been  coupled  together  into  seven  police  districts, 
each  possessing  a  regular  police  station  (exvubitorvum)  and 
two  subordinate  watch  houses. 

Each  district  is  intrusted  to  a  separate  cohort  of  vigiles 
about  1000  men  strong,  thus  giving  Rome  a  total  force  of 
some  7000.  The  vigiles  are  not  actually  soldiers,  and  not 
being  honorable  legionaries  they  are  recruited  almost  entirely 
from  the  freedmen.  However,  after  faithful  service  they 
can  be  transferred  to  the  army.  They  are  under  a  rigid 
discipline,  nevertheless,  and  are  divided  into  "  centuries/5 
each  under  a  centurion,  with  a  tribune  over  the  entire  cohort. 
They  have  various  weapons  for  an  emergency,  but  the  crowd 
usually  mocks  them  for  the  fire-fighting  apparatus  with  which 
they  often  hurry  down  the  streets  —  hooks,  ladders,  axes, 
simple  hand-pumps,  and  above  all,  many  buckets  made  of 
rope  rendered  water-proof  with  pitch. 

By  their  promptitude,  discipline,  and  daring,  even  with 
such  inadequate  apparatus,  these  patrolmen  can  often  stop 
very  dangerous  fires,  and  their  familiar  equipment  gives 
them  their  nickname.  "  The  '  Bucketmen '  are  coming !  " 
is  the  yell  that  frequently  disperses  a  knot  of  thieves  or  of 
turbulent  bullies. 

At  their  different  police  stations  the  vigiles  when  off 
duty  scribble  many  things  upon  the  walls,1  which  give  a 
vivid  idea  that  life  "  on  the  force  "  is  much  the  same  in 
every  age.  At  night  these  "  Bucketmen  "  go  out  in  little 
groups  bearing  tallow  lanterns  and  patrol  the  pitch-black 
streets,  rounding  up  evil-doers  and  detecting  incipient  fires. 

At  each  station  there  is  a  good-sized  lock-up  which  never 
wants  its  unhappy  occupants,  also,  it  must  be  added,  a  pro- 

i  As  discovered  by  modern  archseologists. 

306  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

fessional  torturer  (qwBstionarius)  to  wring  confessions  out  of 
slaves  and  other  non-privileged  prisoners  without  any  tedious 
"  third  degree  J>  process.  Petty  offenses  are  tried  summa- 
rily before  the  Prefect  of  the  Watch  or  his  deputies  in  police 
court  at  these  stations ;  and  for  great  crimes  the  alleged  of- 
fenders can  be  conveyed  to  a  central  jail,  or  admitted  to  bail, 
prior  to  a  formal  trial  before  the  City  Prsefect. 

The  Prsefect  of  the  Watch  (Proefectus  Vigilum),  the  head 
of  this  very  important  organization,  is  really  the  most  im- 
portant municipal  official  in  Rome  except  the  City  Prsefect. 
Since  he  has  to  do  with  much  sordid  detail,  he  is  not  a  top- 
lofty senator,  but  only  an  eques ;  nevertheless,  his  honor  and 
dignity  are  great.  The  subprsefect  under  him  is  also  a  highly 
respected  officer.  The  entire  force  of  the  vigiles,  although, 
of  course,  incessantly  criticized  and  jeered  at,  is  a  very  capa- 
ble body  of  men,  whose  faithfulness  and  energy  go  far  to  make 
life  and  property  better  protected  in  Rome  than  in  most 
great  cities  at  any  age. 

So  with  this  glance  at  the  municipal  government  of  a 
metropolitan  community  of  1,500,000  we  quit  the  Palatine. 
A  new  opportunity  has  presented  itself:  we  can  visit  the 
Praetorian  Camp. 



262.  The  Army  the  Real  Master  of  the  Roman  Empire.  — 
The  Romans  beyond  all  else  have  been  a  military  people. 
Their  great  abilities  as  law  givers,  administrators,  dissemi- 
nators of  civilization  through  Western  Europe  apparently 
would  have  been  almost  in  vain  if  the  legions  had  failed 
against  Hannibal,  against  Mithridates,  against  Vercingetorix. 
Furthermore,  the  power  of  the  Caesars  is  primarily  that  of 
war  chiefs.  Let  the  army  revolt,  and  Senate,  plebeians,  and 
provincials  can  protest  their  loyalty  ever  so  frantically  — 
the  Princeps,  the  "  First  Citizen,"  nevertheless  is  a  lost  man. 

Every  Emperor  knows  this  fact.  His  memory  goes  back 
to  those  two  fearful  years  68  and  69  A.D.  when  first  a  revolt 
in  Gaul  and  a  mutiny  by  the  Praetorians  in  Rome  overthrew 
Nero  and  set  up  Galba,  then  a  second  mutiny  of  the  Praeto- 
rians set  up  Otho,  then  a  revolt  of  the  Rhine  legions  set  up 
Vitellius,  then  a  counter-revolt  by  the  Danube  and  Syrian 
legions  set  up  Vespasian ;  with  the  civilian  population  look- 
ing on  helplessly,  and  being  almost  as  helplessly  plundered, 
while  decidedly  small  bodies  of  professional  swordsmen  set- 
tled the  fate  of  the  Empire.  Still  later  they  remember  how 
after  Domitian's  murder,  the  Praetorians  (whom  that  despot 
had  caressed  and  corrupted)  forced  his  successor  Nerva  to 
punish  the  very  conspirators  to  whom  Nerva  himself  owed 
the  throne. 

Hadrian,  in  turn,  who  passes  for  a  very  "  constitutional " 
ruler,  when  his  kinsman  Trajan  died  (117  A.D.),  allowed  him- 


308  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

self  to  be  "  proclaimed  "  immediately  by  the  soldiers  in  the 
East  where  he  then  was.  Next  he  wrote  with  studious  mod- 
esty to  the  Senate  begging  the  Conscript  Fathers  to  "  excuse  " 
the  zeal  of  the  army  and  to  ratify  its  action  in  choosing  him 
Imperator.  Every  senator  knew  the  blade  might  soon  be 
at  his  own  neck  if  he  openly  opposed  confirming  the  mandate 
of  the  legionaries.  The  army,  in  short,  is  the  final  authority 
in  the  Roman  Empire.  Presently  there  may  even  be  an 
Emperor  [Septimus  Severus  about  210  A.D.]  who  will  give 
his  sons  direfully  blunt  and  effective  counsel :  "  Enrich  the 
army  and  then  you  can  do  anything." 

263.  Army  Held  under  Stiff  Discipline  and  Concentrated 
on  Frontiers.  —  Nevertheless  at  present  the  army  is  under  a 
tight  rein.  Trajan  and  Hadrian  by  a  mixture  of  donatives 
and  severity  have  restored  firm  discipline.  The  Roman  world 
functions  freely  and  normally  behind  the  frontier  barriers 
held  by  the  legions,  with  the  great  chaos  of  barbarism  tossing 
harmlessly  outside.  Furthermore,  this  army,  if  very  formi- 
dable, is,  we  shall  see,  decidedly  small.  It  is  distributed 
mainly  along  the  northern  and  eastern  frontiers,  with  a 
sizable  garrison  and  guard-corps  at  Rome. 

In  the  arrangement  of  the  army,  most  of  the  provinces  seem 
absolutely  divested  of  regular  soldiers  save  those  in  transit, 
and  their  governors  only  require  a  good  constabulary  to 
arrest  brigands  and  rioters.  The  collapse  of  the  Jewish  in- 
surrection has  practically  ended  the  l,ast  serious  attempt  to 
cast  off  Roman  authority,  and  the  provinces  submit  not 
simply  because  of  fear,  but  because  they  are  now  bound  to 
the  imperial  regime  by  great  cultural  and  economic  interests.1 

1  For  the  attitude  of  provincials  under  Roman  rule  the  student  can 
with  interest  read  the  speech  put  in  the  mouth  of  King  Agrippa,  the 
descendant  of  Herod,  by  Josephus  ("  Jewish  War  " :  book  II,  ch.  16)  in 
which  he  tells  the  Jews  of  Nero's  day,  (1)  that  on  the  whole  the  Roman 
rule  is  so  reasonable  and  tolerable  they  have  no  real  cause  to  revolt 
against  it ;  (2)  that  all  nations,  including  the  most  warlike  such  as  Sparta, 

The  Army  309 

In  Rome  itself,  thanks  to  the  presence  of  the  imperial  guard, 
soldiers  are  frequent  sights  upon  the  streets,  but  in  many 
other  great  cities  of  the  Empire  they  are  comparative  rarities. 
Their  duties  are  in  the  frontiers,  and  their  officers  know  well 
the  demoralization  wrought  by  keeping  their  men  in  city 

When  Augustus  found  the  world  at  his  feet  he  also  found 
himself  with  armies  which  were  very  expensive  and  somewhat 
ready  to  mutiny  against  him.  Very  promptly,  therefore,  he 
reduced  his  45  legions  to  only  about  18.  This  number  proved 
too  few,  and  by  the  end  of  his  reign  they  had  risen  to  25 ;  these 
in  turn  have  been  gradually  increased  to  30 ;  and  this  will  be 
the  ordinary  number  for  a  good  while  longer.1  The  legion- 
aries are  the  regular  troops  of  the  line,  on  whose  disciplined 
fighting  the  safety  of  civilization  may  well  depend.  There 
are,  however,  no  ordinary  legionaries  stationed  in  Rome,  al- 
though we  can,  of  course,  obtain  full  information  in  the  capi- 
tal about  them.  Their  place  is  taken  by  a  magnificent  and 
arrogant  guard-corps  —  the  Praetorians. 

264.  The    Praetorian    Guard    of    the   Emperors.  —  The 

Praetorian  guards  are  the  successors  of  the  old  Prcetoriani, 
picked  men,  who  guarded  the  Prsetorium  (general's  resi- 
dence or  tent)  in  the  armies  of  the  old  Republic.  But  the 
new  Imperators  were  entitled  to  a  much  larger  and  more 
permanent  guard,  and  they  also  desired  to  have  a  reliable 
body  of  troops  always  in  or  near  Rome  to  protect  against 
an  uprising.  Augustus,  therefore,  organized  nine  "  prae- 
torian cohorts/'  although  keeping  only  three  directly  in 
Rome ;  his  successor,  Tiberius,  however,  boldly  concentrated 

Macedonia,  the  turbulent  Gauls  and  Spain,  have  long  since  submitted  ; 
(3)  that  these  have  not  merely  submitted  but  keep  obedient  with  only 
fL  trifling  local  display  of  armed  force ;   (4)  that  resistance  to  Rome  is  so 
hopeless  in  any  case  that  a  revolt  would  be  impious  suicide. 
1  About  200  A.I>.  they  were  raised  to  33. 


A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

them  all  in  the  imperial  city,  and  built  for  them  an  enormous 
camp  behind  the  Viminal  hill,  on  the  northeast  side  of  the 

Here  they  have  remained  as  the  dreaded  engine  of  the  Cae- 
sars. Disguise  the  fact  as  he  may,  every  senator  knows 
in  his  heart :  "  If  the  Senate  defies  the  Emperor,  the  Prseto- 


rians  can  and  will  sack  the  Curia."  So  long  as  the  Praetorians 
are  obedient  no  Emperor  need  tremble  overmuch  at  stories 
of  a  provincial  uprising.  When  the  Praetorians  desert  he 
had  better,  as  did  Nero,  slink  away  to  commit  suicide. 

The  guard-corps  is  jealously  regarded  by  the  frontier  le- 
gions who  sometimes  turn  against  it,  but  thanks  to  its  position 
at  the  capital  its  power  is  tremendous.  Even  the  privates 
walk  down  the  streets  with  a  confident  swagger  —  can  they 

The  Army  311 

not  make  and  unmake  Emperors  ?  If  the  army  really  con- 
trols the  Empire,  the  Praetorians  go  far  to  control  the  will 
of  the  army. 

265.  The  Praetorian  Praefect  and  the  Praetorian  Camp.  — 
Such  being  the  case,  there  is  one  high  official  whom  the  Cse- 
sars  will  always  select  with  greater  care  than  any  other  — 
the  Prcetorian  Prcefect.  On  this  general  rests  responsibility 
for  the  military  efficiency  and  loyalty  of  the  corps.  If  he  is 
a  scheming  bloody  man,  he  can,  like  Tiberius's  prsefect 
Sejanus,  almost  place  himself  upon  the  throne;  and  if  he 
is  simply  a  faithful  competent  officer,  his  public  services 
excel  that  of  any  civil  functionary. 

Since  curiously  enough  the  Emperor  usually  intrusts  to 
the  Praetorian  Prsefect  the  task  of  hearing  legal  "  appeals 
to  Csesar  "  from  the  imperial  half  of  the  provinces,  it  is  not 
unusual  to  name  two  preefects,  nominally  of  equal  authority 
but  with  one  of  them  often  a  trained  jurist,  and  the  other 
more  concerned  with  the  military  management  of  the  corps. 
This  has  the  additional  advantage  of  making  it  harder  to 
start  an  insurrection,  —  each  Prsefect  will  keep  watch  upon 
his  colleague. 

Inasmuch  as  the  Emperor  is  now  absent  from  Rome  a 
detachment  of  the  guard  is  away  with  him,  but  the  world 
being  in  general  peace  there  is  no  need  (as  in  a  major  war) 
for  the  entire  corps  to  go  forth  to  reinforce  the  frontier  le- 
gions. The  Praetorians  are  therefore  on  duty  as  usual; 
one  cohort  at  the  Palatine,  the  remainder  barracked  at  their 
great  camp. 

The  C astro,  Prcetoria *  is  more  than  a  mere  cantonment ;  it 
is  a  real  fortress,  only  to  be  stormed  after  desperate  fighting. 
We  enter  it  from  the  central  gateway  (Porta  Prcstoria)  which 
looks  straight  westward  upon  the  city.  A  lofty  wall  of  ma- 

1  Its  site  to-day  is  occupied  by  the  chief  railroad  station  of  Rome,  by 
which  most  foreign  visitors  enter  the  city  and  depart. 

312  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

sonry,  brick,  and  concrete,  crowned  by  suitable  battlements, 
surrounds  a  vast  rectangular  area  about  1400  feet  wide,  and 
1100  feet  deep.  The  greater  and  lesser  gates  are  crowned 
with  fine  marble  sculptures  almost  worthy  of  the  Palatine. 
In  the  center  of  the  area  rises  a  mass  of  office  buildings,  a 
residence  for  the  Prefect  and  a  small  temple  to  the  military 
gods  such  as  Mars,  and  especially  to  the  deified  emperors. 
The  side  walls  of  the  inclosure  are  extended  on  the  inside  by 
an  enormous  system  of  arches  and  vaulting,  making  many 
deep  chambers  where  thousands  of  men  are  easily  barracked. 

In  the  open  area  fountains  are  playing,  and  the  sun  is  send- 
ing a  flying  glory  from  the  burnished  armor  of  a  cohort 
standing  at  rest,  while  certain  officers  affix  medals  of  honor, 
or  bestow  spears  and  banners  of  honor  upon  various  men  who 
have  lately  distinguished  themselves  during  some  detached 
duty  in  Mauretania.  Everything  about  the  place  betrays 
a  perfect  "  police  " ;  all  commands  are  executed  with  ex- 
treme promptness;  and  every  individual  seems  absolutely 
to  know  his  part,  as  being  one  cog  in  an  enormous  war  ma- 
chine, into  the  making  of  which  has  entered  an  almost  in- 
conceivable amount  of  skill  and  energy. 

266.  Organization  and  Discipline  of  the  Praetorians.  — 
The  Praetorians  are  organized  much  as  the  ordinary  legion- 
ary troops  with  certain  proud  modifications.  The  regular 
legions  can  be  recruited  from  all  over  the  Empire ;  the  Prae- 
torians are  still  drawn  only  from  Italy.  They  receive  twice 
the  pay  of  the  legionaries,  and  their  term  of  service  is  only 
sixteen  years  as  against  twenty  with  the  regulars.  Besides 
these  advantages,  and  the  joy  of  living  near  to  the  pleasures 
of  Rome,  their  discipline  is  said  to  be  much  easier. 

The  emperors,  who  fear  the  mutterings  of  the  guard-corps 
much  more  than  they  do  those  of  the  Senate,  often  shower 
special  bonuses  upon  the  Praetorians.  Their  centurions  and 
still  more  their  tribunes  are.  welcome  guests  in  the  most  aris- 

The  Army  313 

tocratic  houses  in  Rome.  Their  weapons  are  the  same  as  the 
legionaries',  but,  of  course,  their  armor  is  of  the  finest ;  and  on 
gala  occasions  when  the  whole  corps  is  ordered  out  with  gilded 
or  silvered  helmets  and  cuirasses  over  purple  military  cloaks, 
the  sight  of  these  thousands  of  tall  powerful  warriors  march- 
ing in  perfect  rhythm  is  astonishing  beyond  words. 

In  one  important  respect  the  organization  of  the  Prse- 
torians  differs  from  that  of  the  regular  legionaries:  their 
nine  cohorts  number  1000  instead  of  600  men  each  and  the 
whole  guard-corps  therefore  amounts  to  about  9000  men. 
Considering  that  these  troops  are  chosen  for  their  splendid 
physiques,  and  are  trained  for  years  in  every  military  accom- 
plishment, remarkable  will  be  the  foe  of  like  numbers  that 
can  withstand  them.  As  for  the  city  of  Rome,  its  whole 
raging  populace  is  like  mere  chaff  and  straw  if  the  trumpets 
sound  through  the  camp,  and  the  centurions  thunder  down 
their  files,  "  Open  the  gates  and  clear  the  streets  !  " 

267.  The  City  Cohorts  (Cohortes  Urbanae).  —  The  Prae- 
torians, however,  have  some  humbler  comrades  in  Rome,  in 
addition  to  police-firemen,  the  vigiles.  Sometimes  the  guard- 
corps  must  follow  the  Emperor  on  campaign,  but  neverthe- 
less the  capital  needs  a  fixed  garrison.  The  City  Praefeet 
(see  p.  300),  therefore,  commands  four  additional  cohorts 
(cohortes  urbance)  also  of  1000  each,  in  a  special  camp  in  the 
northern  part  of  the  metropolis.  These  "  City  Cohorts  " 
are  organized  much  like  the  Praetorians,  and  in  a  grave  emer- 
gency would  act  with  them ;  but  they  have  longer  terms  of 
service,  lesser  pay,  severer  discipline. 

It  is  far  less  of  an  honor  to  belong  to  this  force  than  to  the 
Praetorians,  and  there  is  little  "  fraternizing  "  between  its 
members  and  the  haughty  guard-corps.  However,  they 
make  4000  more  armed  men  always  available  for  the  defense 
and  control  of  the  city.  Added  to  these  can,  of  course,  be 
the  vigiles  (7000  strong),  easily  changeable  into  genuine 

314  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

soldiers  in  a  crisis.  This  makes  the  total  garrison  of  Rome, 
while  the  Praetorians  are  in  the  city,  around  20,000  men, 
plus  usually  some  marines  detached  from  the  squadrons  at 
Ostia  and  Misenum. 

The  frontiers  are  far  away,  but  the  central  direction  of  the 
great  imperial  war  machine  is  inevitably  at  Rome.  From 
the  Praetorian  barracks  issue  those  orders  which  can  set  the 
legions  marching  against  the  Caledonians  of  North  Britain 
or  the  Arabs  of  the  Syrian  deserts.  There  can  be  no  better 
place,  therefore,  for  inquiry  about  the  organization  and  dis- 
cipline of  that  grim  efficient  engine  which  maintains  the  Pax 
Romana  and  makes  possible  the  splendid,  artificial  Grseco- 
Roman  civilization. 

High  officers  are  constantly  passing  through  Rome.  Some 
of  these  men  have  had  long  and  distinguished  careers,  and 
among  them  is  a  certain  Aulus  Quadratus,  a  gray  and  grizzled 
veteran,  now  in  the  capital  for  honorable  retirement,  after  an 
unusual  term  of  service.  By  tracing  his  experience,  a  good 
insight  can  be  gained  into  the  organization  and  duties  of  the 

268.  A  Private  in  the  Legions:  the  Legionary  Organi- 
zation. —  Quadratus  was  born  in  South  Gaul  (Gallia  Nar- 
bonensis),  a  country  that  has  already  been  well  Romanized, 
and  from  which  the  government  draws  many  excellent  le- 
gionaries.1 He  was  a  poor  free  laborer  on  a  great  estate,  but 
when  he  was  only  about  eighteen  an  enrolling  officer  appeared 
and  demanded  a  certain  number  of  recruits  of  his  master. 
The  latter  naturally  suggested  taking  several  of  the  youngest 
and  least  valuable  of  the  hands.  Quadratus  was  strong, 
courageous,  and  adventuresome,  and  he  did  not  object  to  this 
informal  type  of  "  selective  draft/'  Thus  he  soon  found 
himself  a  private  in  the  camp  of  the  "  Second  Augustan  Le- 

1  An  ever  larger  proportion  of  legionary  troops  had  to  be  enlisted  in 
the  provinces,  although  preferably  in  the  parta  somewhat  Romanized. 

The  Army 


gion  "  (legio  secunda  augusta)  stationed  in  a  great  fortified 
camp  guarding  the  Rhine  somewhere  near  later  Mayence 
or  Strassbourg  in  "  Upper  Germany  "  (Alsace  and  the  Rhen- 
ish Palatinate). 

Once  enlisted,  Quadratus  realized  that  at  least  twenty 
years  of  unremitting  service  lay  ahead  of  him.  Home  life 
and  marriage  were  forbidden 
the  soldiery,  and  their  whole 
lives  revolved  around  the 
army.  The  Roman  discipline 
caught  each  man,  and  each 
became  a  valuable  and  con- 
tented soldier  only  so  far  as 
he  submitted  to  this  discipline 
and  merged  his  personality  in 
the  vast  organization. 

Quadratus  was,  therefore, 
promptly  "  put  under  the 
vine-stock,"  the  stout  cudgel 
of  twisted  vine  twigs  with 
which  the  centurions  vigor- 
ously corrected  their  tyros. 
At  first  he  was  a  very  igno- 
rant and  unimportant  part  of 
the  "  Second  Augustan,"  but  soon  he  understood  its  organ- 
ization and  became  proud  of  its  history.  Every  legion  con- 
sisted of  ten  cohorts,  each  in  turn  divided  into  six  centuries.1 
Each  century  contained  in  theory  a  hundred  infantry,  mak- 
ing 6000  for  the  entire  legion.  Besides  these,  there  was  a 
small  cavalry  force  for  scouting  attached  to  each  legion,  four 
turma  (squadrons)  of  30  horsemen  each.  The  various  con- 


1  In  Hadrian's  time  a  change  was  taking  place  whereby  the  first  cohort 
in  a  legion  contained  about  twice  as  many  men  as  there  were  in  any  of 
the  other  nine ;  but  this  alteration  became  only  gradually  effective. 


A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

tingents,  however,  were  seldom  quite  full.  When  the  Second 
Augustan  went  to  battle  it  reckoned,  therefore,  somewhere 
under  6000  men. 

269.  Training  of  the  Legionaries:  the  Pilum  and  the 
Gladius.  —  Quadratus,  under  very  severe  drill  masters, 
learned  the  use  of  weapons.  Nothing  could  take  the  place, 
so  he  was  taught,  of  cool  proficiency  with  sword  and  javelin. 
It  was  the  trained  valor  of  the  average  Roman  legionary, 

ROMAN  SIEGE  WORKS  :  restoration  of  Caesar's  siege  works  at  Alesia. 

not  the  skill  often  of  his  commanders,  that  had  given  to  the 
Caesars  the  mastery  of  the  world,  and  while  the  discipline 
was  strict,  and  the  training  incessant,  pains  were  taken  not  to 
destroy  the  young  man's  self-respect,  or  those  powers  of 
initiative  which  were  the  glory  of  his  profession. 

He  was  taught  furthermore  to  despise  those  enemies,  who, 
like  the  old  Macedonians,  were  so  lacking  in  personal  re- 
sources that  they  had  to  go  into  battle  wedged  together 
shield  to  shield  with  long  spears  bristling  in  front — the 
rigid  "  phalanx  "  formation.  This  is  excellent  on  level  ground 
when  the  foe  is  all  ahead,  but  often  becomes  a  source  of 

The  Army 


danger  to  itself  because  the  closely  packed  soldiers  are  de* 
prived  of  any  chance  to  display  personal  valor,  and  are  al- 
most helpless  to  change  position  if  attached  on  flank  or  rear* 
Quadratus  in  his  training  was  taught  to  stand  five  feet 
from  his  comrades  on  either  side  with  plenty  of  room  to  swing 
his  shield  and  javelin. 

Long  exercise  made  him  a  master  of  his  two  weapons.    The 
heavy  javelin  (pilum)  is  a  devilish  missile,  as  every  foe  of 


Rome  has  learned  to  his  cost.  It  is  about  six  and  a  half 
feet  long  with  a  heavy  wooden  butt  and  a  long  blade-like 
head,  usually  barbed  and  razor  keen.  Flung  by  a  prac- 
ticed soldier  at  short  range  it  can  knock  down  any  adversary 
who  is  not  firmly  braced,  even  if  it  does  not  pierce  his  shield. 
Once  lodged  in  the  shield  it  is  no  light  thing  to  draw  it  out 
and  not  expose  oneself  to  a  second  deadlier  blow. 

The  pilum,  they  told  Quadrates,  was  what  had  really  made 
the  Roman  Empire  possible ;  but  it  is  duly  supplemented  by 
the  Spanish  short  sword  (gladius).  This  is  a  weapon  bor- 


A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

rowed,  perhaps,  from  Spain  but  thoroughly  Italianized. 
The  blade  is  about  thirty-three  inches  long,  two-edged, 
sharp-pointed,  and  always  used  for  thrusting.  The  instant 
a  legionary  has  flung  his  pilum,  and  while  his  foe  if  not 
wounded  is  at  least  utterly  demoralized  from  the  shock,  he 
whips  his  gladius%from  his  thigh  and  leaps  upon  him.  A 
single  good  thrust  will  disembowel  a  man,  and  he  who  is 
thus  assailed  by  a  trained  Roman  swordsman  should  pray 

to  his  native  gods  —  he  will  need 
all  aid  possible. 

270.  Defensive  Weapons.  — 
These  two  very  simple  weapons 
Quadratus  was  taught  to  handle 
to  perfection,  until  across  the 
years  their  use  became  simply 
mechanical  to  him.  Meantime 
he  was  learning  to  march,  leap, 
and  fight  in  his  heavy  defensive 
armor.  He  wore  a  stout  me- 
tallic cuirass  of  fish-scale  plates, 
and  a  solid  helmet  of  brass  upon 
which  in  parades  and  in  actual 

battle  he  set  a  nodding  plume  of  horse-hair.  This  helmet 
had  brow-  and  cheek-pieces  giving  very  perfect  protection, 
but  was  so  heavy  that  while  marching  he  was  allowed  to  carry 
it  swung  from  a  strap  upon  his  breast. 

Of  course,  however,  his  chief  defensive  weapon  was  his 
shield.  This  capital  piece  of  armor  is  a  rectangle  of  solid 
leather  about  four  by  two  and  one  half  feet,  rimmed  with 
iron  and  with  handles  for  carrying  on  the  left  arm.  A  trained 
legionary  knows  how  to  fend  and  lunge  with  his  shield  with 
marvelous  agility,  and  by  means  of  the  solid  metal  base  in 
the  center  he  can  strike  a  tremendous  blow.  Almost  no 
weapon  can  penetrate  the  shield,  and  thanks  to  it  and  his 


The  Army 


cuirass  and  his  helmet,  a  soldier  can  march  unscathed  amid 
a  perfect  shower  of  arrows.  Every  technical  point  about  his 
armor  has,  of  course,  been  worked  out  scientifically.  Simple 
as  it  appears,  it  represents  a  triumph  of  human  skill. 

271.  Rewards  and  Punishments  for  Soldiers.  —  Thus 
accoutered  Quadratus  gained  his  first  experience  when  the 
Second  Augusta  was  or- 
dered over  the  Rhine  to 
punish  a  tribe  of  Ger- 
manic raiders  in  later-day 
Hessen.  In  the  fighting 
that  ensued  he  so  proved 
his  skill  and  courage  that 
he  received  his  first  deco- 
ration, the  right  to  wear 
a  small  banderole  upon 
his  pilum  when  his  co- 
hort appeared  on  parade 
ground.  Discipline  was 
severe,  but  rewards  for 
faithfulness  and  valor 
were  prompt  and  conspic- 
uous. He  had  long  seen 
his  older  comrades  march- 
ing about  with  "spears 
of  honor,"  banderoles, 

and  above  all  with  huge  medals  and  medallions,  which,  upon 
gala  occasions,  they  wore  upon  their  breasts. 

Long  before  Quadratus's  career  was  ended,  he,  like  many 
others,  had  a  perfect  collection  of  these  medals,  which  hung 
jangling  over  his  cuirass  almost  like  a  second  coat  of  armor. 
Everybody  knew  the  honors  awarded  his  comrades,  and 
there  was  constant  emulation  to  deserve  like  decorations  as 
well  as  more  substantial  rewards.  No  system  could  be  better 

320  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

devised  to  call  out  the  valorous  service  of  simple-hearted  and 

often  very  uncultivated  men. 

While  Quadratus,  without  too  many  blows  from 
his  centurions'  vinestock,  was  thus  on  his  way  to 
promotion,  he  could  witness  the  punishment  of  less 
fortunate  comrades.  Stripes,  docking  of  pay,  and 
extra  duty  were  the  standard  penalties ;  but  some- 
times there  were  worse  inflictions.  Once  a  whole 
century  acted  in  a  cowardly  manner.  It  was  sen- 
tenced for  one  month  to  bivouac  outside  the  camp 
and  to  eat  bread  of  barley,  —  not  of  wheat,  the  food 
of  brave  and  obedient  troops. 

Sometimes,  of  course,  capital  penalties  were  de- 
manded. Once  a  private  was  guilty  of  gross  insub- 
ordination ;  he  had  to  "  run  the  gantlet " 
(Justuarium)  between  two  long  files  of  sol- 
diers who  beat  him  with  cudgels  while  he 
dashed  vainly  down  the  line,  perishing  ere 
he  could  reach  the  end.  Once  a  detach- 
ment of  half-drilled  auxiliaries  fled  in  an 
outrageous  manner  before  the  enemy.  To 

JAVELIN:  ^each  a  stern  lesson  these  irregulars  were 
pilum  ,,  .  .  in,.-  ,  •,  ,. 

of   the       decimated    ;  being  forced  to  stand  dis- 

legion-  armed  before  the  whole  legion,  while  lots 
"y*  were  cast  selecting  every  tenth  man,  who 
was  forthwith  dragged  from  the  ranks  and  beheaded. 

272.  Pay  and  Rations  in  the  Army:  Soldiers' 
Savings  Banks.  —  While  a  private  Quadratus,  of 
course,  drew  the  private's  pay,  1200  sesterces  ($48) 
a  year,1  out  of  which,  however,  was  deducted  a 
certain  part  of  his  upkeep  and  equipment.  Even 
as  it  was,  however,  this  gave  fairly  ample  spending  money, 
and  every  soldier  was  required  to  deposit  a  part  of  his  wages 

1  In  the  earlier  Empire  it  was  only  900  sesterces  ($36), 

The  Army 

in  the  legionary  savings  bank,  accumulating  against  the  day 
of  his  happy  discharge,  and  protected  from  barrack-room 
gambling  and  squandering.  Besides  this,  brave  service  often 
won  an  increase  of  stipend,  more  valuable  than  many  medals  ; 
and  Quadratus  was  presently  a  duplarius,  a  "  double-pay 
man,"  to  the  great  envy  of  certain  comrades. 
Army  rations  would  have  seemed  to  another 
age  extremely  monotonous,  a  mere  succession 
of  huge  portions  of  coarse  bread  or  of  wheat 
porridge.  There  were  also  distributions  of 
salt  pork,  vegetables,  etc.,  but  the  legionaries 
did  not  care  greatly  for  meat.  There  were 
even  cases  when  they  protested  against  "  too 
much  beef  and  too  little  wheat."  As  for  drink, 
everybody  in  camp  enjoyed  plenty  of  posca 
—  the  dilution  of  cheap  wine  and  vinegar.1 

273.  The  Training  of  Soldiers  :  Non-Military  Labors.  — 
Drilling  went  on  incessantly.  Even  soldiers  versed  in  their 
spear  play  seemed  forever  under  arms  merely  to  keep  up  the 
camp  routine  and  morale.  Every  man  was  trained  to  be  a 
good  swimmer,  to  run,  jump,  and  indulge  in  acrobatic  feats 
like  the  testudo  (when  one  group  of  men  climbed  upon  their 
comrades'  heads)  so  useful  in  storming  walls.  Thrice  a 
month  the  whole  legion  went  on  a  forced  practice  march, 
going  at  least  twenty  miles  at  four  miles  (or  more)  per  hour, 
each  man  bearing,  besides  his  heavy  armor,  an  elaborate 
baggage  kit,  half  a  bushel  of  grain,  one  or  two  tall  intrench- 
ing stakes,  a  spade,  axe,  rope,  and  other  tools  —  a  weight  of 
sixty  pounds. 

If  strictly  military  work  failed,  there  were  endless  civilian 

1  It  might  be  added  that  Roman  legions  appear  to  have  had  a  medical 
department  under  a  medicus  legionis,  which  cared  efficiently  for  the 
health  of  the  troops.  Camp  sanitation  was  well  understood,  and  epi- 
demics in  the  army  were  rare. 


A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

labors.  Quadratus  learned  to  use  his  spade  almost  as  well 
as  he  could  his  pilum.  He  assisted  in  making  and  in  repairing 
the  great  network  of  magnificent  military  roads  leading  to 
the  frontiers.  He  worked  in  the  legionary  brick  kilns, 
making  bricks  for  the  camps  and  the  numerous  small  castella 

used  to  hold  back  the 
onthrusting  Germans. 
He  helped  also  to  re- 
build a  temple  of  Ju- 
piter at  the  garrison 
town  of  Mogontiacum 
(Mayence),  and  later  to 
tug  up  the  stones  for  a 
new  amphitheater  in 
that  city.  If  he  had 
been  attached  to  a 
Syrian  legion,  he  and 
his  comrades  might 
even  have  been  ordered 
out  to  repel  an  invasion 
not  of  Parthians  but  of 
the  more  devastating 

274.  Petty  Officers 
in  the  Legions.  —  All 
this  experience  came  to 
him  while  he  was  earn- 
ing his  first  promotions.  Everybody  in  the  legion  —  except 
those  lowest  and  highest  —  had  somebody,  indeed,  whom  he 
could  command  while  some  one  else  could  command  him, 
and  there  was  a  very  ingenious  division  and  interlocking  of 
power  and  responsibility. 

Petty  officers  abounded,  and  having  approved  himself, 
Quadratus  became  one  of  the  principales  (high  privates, 


The  Army  323 

and  corporals)  —  first  he  became  a  lesser  arius,  "  bearer  of  the 
watchword"  for  his  century;  then  the  "horn  blower/' 
responsible  often  for  important  signals,  then  the  signifer, 
the  bearer  of  the  small  red  flag  (vexilliwri),  surmounted  with 
a  small  image  of  Victory,  which  was  the  standard  of  the 
cohort ;  then  he  was  named  optio  ("  chosen  "  man  by  a  cen- 
turion), a  centurion's  deputy  and  assistant,  entitled  to  rank 
as  a  real  officer  and  responsible  for 
the  control  of  a  large  squad  of  men. 
At  last  came  one  of  the  most 
important  days  of  his  life.  At  a 
general  parade  of  the  legion  the 
commanding  general  (legatiis  le- 

gionis)  announced  that  Quadratus 

.    ,    i         ,     .  j      T  MILITARY  TRUMPET. 

was  appointed  centurion  and  sol- 
emnly intrusted  him  with  the  terrible  vinestock.    There  was 
no  danger  he  would  show  mercy  to  the  raw  recruits  1 

275.  The  Centurions:  thek  Importance  and  Order  of 
Promotion.  —  Quadratus  was  now  a  member  of  that  group 
of  officers  to  which  the  Roman  army  owed  the  greater  part  of 
its  entire  discipline,  morale,  and  efficiency.  There  were 
sixty  centurions  in  every  legion.  They  were  usually  self- 
made  men,  sturdy  peasants'  sons  like  himself,  who  had  risen 
from  the  ranks  and  then  been  selected  by  the  general  on  ac- 
count of  merit. 

The  six  military  tribunes  of  each  legion  were,  indeed, 
of  higher  rank,  but  they  were  often  untested  young  noble- 
men, obliged  to  get  a  certain  "  military  experience  "  before 
returning  to  Rome  to  sue  for  seats  in  the  Senate  and  the  favor 
of  the  Emperor.  The  centurions,  however,  were  a  permanent 
body.  They  had  enlisted  in  the  legion,  and  their  whole 
life  was  tied  up  with  it.  If  their  methods  were  harsh,  they 
prided  themselves  on  showing  an  example  of  daring  yet  scien- 
tific valor  in  every  battle.  They  were  intensely  devoted  to 


A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

their  corps,  its  honor,  and  the  honor  of  their  comrades. 
With  good  centurions  a  motley  host  of  raw  recruits  soon  be- 
came formidable  legionaries ;  without  them  the  most  skilful 
general  might  strive  in  vain  to  organize  an  army. 

As  centurion  Quadratus  found  a  straight  line  of  promotion 
before  him.    He  was  obliged  to  begin  as  the  sixth  centurion 

of  the  tenth  cohort,  and  by 
process  of  seniority  he  was  en- 
titled to  rise  to  first  centurion 
of  the  first  cohort.  He  was 
making  fair  progress  but  ad- 
vancement was  discouragingly 
stow,  and  he  might  have  ended 
(as  did  most  of  his  fellow 
officers)  only  part  way  up  the 
ladder  before  he  reached  the 
retiring  age,  when  a  great  good 
fortune  came  to  him. 

While  only  a  private  he 
had  won  the  "  civic  crown  " 
(corona  dwca)  of  oak  leaves 
for  saving  the  life  of  a  comrade 
in  battle;  he  had  also  gained 
the  golden  "  mural  crown " 
(corona  muralis)  for  being  the 
first  in  a  desperate  storming 
party  over  the  parapet  of  a 
crude  fortress  held  by  the  Germans.  But  now,  while  acting 
as  senior  centurion  of  a  large  detachment,  with  the  com- 
manding tribune  absent,  he  learned  that  a  Roman  garrison 
somewhere  in  the  heart  of  the  Black  Forest  region  was  hard 
pressed  by  a  horde  of  Chatti.  He  led  up  his  men  suddenly 
and  skilfully,  broke  through  and  dispersed  the  Barbarians 
and  saved  the  garrison  when  it  was  at  last  gasp.  For  this 

OF-THE-LINE):  one  soldier  is  carry- 
ing his  equipment  upon  a  "  Ma- 
rius*s  Mule,"  a  staff  arranged  to 
serve  as  a  knapsack,  invented  by 
Marius  about  1 10  B.C. 

The  Army 


he  was  awarded  the  "  siege  crown  "  (corona  obsidionalis) ,  a 
remarkable  honor  given  by  the  rescued  garrison,  and  plaited 
out  of  grass  and  weeds  plucked  on  the  spot  of  battle/  to  the 
leader  who  had  saved  them. 

276.  The  Primipilus :  the  Great  Eagle  of  the  Legion,  — 
This  distinction  made  it  inevitable  that  when  the  post  of 
first  centurion  in  the  legion  fell  vacant,  Quadratus  should  be 
jumped  over  the  heads  of  many 
others  and  made  primipilus  ("first 
javelin  ")  —  the  head  of  the  whole 
corps  of  centurions,  entitled  to 
participate  with  the  tribunes  in 
a  council  of  war,  and  —  being, 
of  course,  now  a  man  of  great 
practical  experience  —  allowed  to 
speak  very  openly  to  the  Legate 
of  the  Legion  himself.  Quadratus 
was  now  in  some  respects  the 
most  important  man  in  the  Sec- 
ond Augustan.  His  war  pay  was 
considerable,  and  he  added  to  it 
by  the  permitted  usage  of  taking 
fees  from  the  men  for  certain  ex- 
emptions from  duty. 

As  primipilus  he  had  the  weighty  responsibility  of  taking 
charge  of  the  great  golden  eagle  of  the  legion.  In  battle  he 
would  sometimes  pluck  it  from  the  ordinary  bearer  (aquilifer), 
and  electrify  his  comrades  by  dashing  ahead  with  the  full- 
sized  golden  eagle  with  outspread  wings,  surrounded  by  bril- 
liant streamers,  now  borne  on  its  pole  high  above  his  shoulders. 
Where  the  eagle  went,  there  honor  and  devotion  made  every 
legionary  follow  with  the  fury  of  a  man  possessed.  In  a 

1  The  only  materials  for  a  crown  assumed  to  be  available  in  a  rescued 


326  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

certain  shrewd  tussle  with  the  Hermunduri,  the  valor  of  the 
whole  phalanx  of  those  Barbarians  was  snuffed  out  when 
they  saw  the  glistening  aquila  bearing  down  on  them  heading 
a  six-thousand-man  wedge,  with  all  the  ten  cohort  flags  like 
obedient  retainers  thrusting  on  behind,  and  when  next  came 
the  pitiless  beat  of  the  pila  succeeded  instantly  by  the  rush 
of  the  expert  swordsmen. 

277.  Locations  and  Names  of  Legions.  —  Having  become 
primipilus  while  still  a  fairly  young  man,  Quadratus  was  not 
at  the  end  of  his  promotion.  He  had  carefully  saved  his 
money,  and  presently  he  gained  official  nobility  as  an  eques. 
Now  he  was  appointed  to  an  independent  command  not  in  the 
legionary  regulars,  but  in  the  "  auxiliary  cohorts." 

Only  about  one  half  of  the  imperial  forces  are  in  the  legions. 
These  are  for  the  heavy  fighting;  they  are  kept  in  large 
garrisons  and  are  used  for  secondary  work  as  little  as  possible, 
nor  are  they  moved  from  province  to  province  except  in 
serious  emergencies.1  The  Second  Augustan  has  always  been 
in  Upper  Germany  and  there  presumably  it  will  stay  for 
generations  more.  The  same  is  true  of  the  Third  Augustan 
in  North  Africa,  of  the  Fourth  Scythians  on  the  Danube,  of 

1  The  distribution  of  the  legions  varied  somewhat  from  one  period  to 
another  according  to  the  probable  dangers  on  the  exposed  frontiers,  but 
the  largest  armies  were  always  stationed  along  the  Rhine,  the  Danube, 
and  the  Euphrates.  In  Hadrian's  time  apparently  the  main  forces  lay 

Britain,  3  legions. 

Germany  (Rhinelands),  4  legions. 

Danubian  lands  and  Dacia,  10  legions. 

Syria  and  Palestine,  5  legions. 

Cappadocia,  2  legions. 

In  alTthe  other  provinces  requiring  legionary  troops  at  all  (e,g.  Egypt, 
Spain,  Numidia,  etc.),  only  one  legion. 

Apparently  in  the  second  Christian  century  the  greatest  danger  point 
seemed  near  the  Danube,  and  the  second  greatest  along  the  Euphrates, 
with  the  Rhinelands  relatively  more  secure  than  earlier,  when  more 
legions  had  been  stationed  near  them. 

The  Army  327 

the  Twelfth  Thunderers  in  Syria,  and  of  a  good  many  others. 
The  result  is  that  each  legion,  largely  recruited  in  the  near-by 
provinces,  has  small  desire  for  distant  service ;  and  there  is 
little  love  between,  say,  the  "  Twenty-first  Ravagers  "  in 
Upper  Germany  and  the  "  Sixth  Ironclads  "  stationed  along 
the  Euphrates.1 

278.  The  Auxiliary  Cohorts:  the 
Second  Grand  Division  of  the  Army. 
—  But  it  is  absolutely  necessary  to 
have  mobile  force,  composed  of 
troops  of  many  kinds,  especially 
cavalry,  archers,  slingers,  and  light 
spearmen  for  scouting.  These  men 
are  often  enlisted  in  the  un-Roman- 
ized  provinces,  and  are  allowed  to 
keep  their  native  arms  and  discipline. 
As  a  rule  they  are  organized  in  un- 
attached cohorts,  either  in  "  large  " 
cohorts  of  1000  men  with  ten  centu- 
ries, or  "  small "  cohorts  of  480  with 

six  so-called  centuries.    Their  com- 

,       .  ,     .  t(  ->  „       LIGHT-ARMED  SOLDIER. 

mander  is  regularly   a      Prefect, 

commonly  an  officer  who,  like  Quadratus,  has  graduated  from 
the  stern  school  of  the  centurion  in  a  legion. 

Auxiliary  cohorts  are  often  embodied  and  disbanded, 
they  have  no  such  glorious  history  and  traditions  as  the 
legions,  but  they  have  a  distinctive  name  and  a  number. 
Quadratus  was  assigned  to  the  command  of  a  new  "  large  " 
cohort  made  up  of  tall  blonde  Germans  who  were  glad  to 

1  Some  legions  were  named  for  their  organisers :  Augustus,  Claudius, 
etc. ;  some  for  real  or  alleged  martial  qualities,  "Ferrata,"  "  Fulminata," 
"  Victrix,"  and  the  like ;  one,  the  "Alauda,"  from  the  lark's  wings  worn 
on  the  helmets ;  several  which  were  made  by  dividing  existing  legions 
were  known  as  "Gemina,"  and  some  from  their  place  of  original  recruit- 
ing, "Gallica,"  "Italica,"  etc. 

328  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

forget  their  feuds  with  the  Romans,  cross  the  Rhine,  and  take 
the  Emperor's  pay,  swearing  to  him  the  great  oath  of  im- 
plicit military  allegiance  (the  sacr  amentum).  The  govern- 
ment is  far  too  wise,  however,  to  leave  such  aliens  too  near 
their  homes.  Quadratus  was,  therefore,  promptly  ordered 
to  march  his  "  Sixth  Nervan  "  (so  named  in  honor  of  the  then 
Emperor  Nerva) l  to  the  Danube. 

The  day  the  new  Praefect  quitted  his  old  comrades  of  the 
Second  Augustan  he  drew  from  the  legionary  chest  all  the 
savings  from  his  pay,  plus  the  sums  deposited  there  after 
each  bonus  or  donation  wherewith  the  Emperors  were  always 
conciliating  the  army.  He  had  also  long  since  joined  a  self- 
help  organization  among  the  officers  whereby  he  was  to 
receive  a  fixed  sum  for  his  outfit  whenever  he  received  pro- 
motion.2 He  thus  started  upon  his  career  as  an  upper  officer 
a  tolerably  rich  man. 

279.  The  Prsefect  of  the  Camps  and  the  Legate  of  the 
Legion.  —  As  Prsefect  of  the  Sixth  Nervan  he  won  the  good 
opinion  of  Trajan  in  both  of  the  desperate  Dacian  Wars  and 
then  in  the  campaign  against  Parthia.  As  the  next  step,  he 
was  appointed  by  imperial  patent  "  Prsefect  of  the  Camps  " 
—  the  second  in  command  of  a  legion,  not  responsible,  indeed, 
for  its  conduct  in  battle,  but  with  almost  complete  authority 
over  its  management  and  discipline  while  in  its  great  perma- 
nent garrisons,  subject  only  (in  extreme  cases)  to  the  final 
authority  of  the  commanding  legate. 

This  was  as  high  ordinarily  as  even  a  very  fortunate  soldier, 
who  had  enlisted  as  a  mere  private,  could  advance.  Even 

1  The  centurion  to  whom  St.  Paul's  custody  was  intrusted  (Acts 
XXVII,  1)  was  of  the  "  Augustan  band,"  i.e.  one  of  the  somewhat  numer- 
ous cohorts  named  for  Augustus  —  the  special  number  not  being  given. 

2  Also  we  know  from  the  by-laws  of  these  soldiers'  benefit  clubs  that 
every  member  was  entitled  to  a  fine  funeral,  to  an  allowance  for  travel 
money  if  obliged  to  go  on  a  long  journey,  and  finally  to  a  fixed  sum  as 
consolation  money  in  case  he  was  demoted ! 

The  Army  329 

as  Prsefect  of  the  Camp  Quadratus  was  looked  down  upon 
socially  by  the  six  young  military  tribunes,  scions  of  sena- 
torial families,  who  hung  around  the  headquarters  (pros- 
ton-urn),  wrote  verses,  patronized  the  centurions,  and  boasted 
of  how  "  they  commanded  the  legion."  But  Quadratus  was, 
we  repeat,  an  extraordinarily  lucky  officer.  Grizzled  now 
and  battle-scarred,  he  impressed  Hadrian  as  absolutely  to  be 
trusted.  The  Emperor,  therefore,  raised  him  to  the  rank  of 
"  Legate  of  the  Legion,"  which  carried  with  it  a  seat  in  the 
Senate,  and  for  the  past  few  years  accordingly  Quadratus 
has  been  on  the  Rhine  in  chief  command  of  that  same  Second 
Augustan  where  once  he  had  "  submitted  to  the  vinestock  " 
as  a  raw  recruit. 

He  has  now  returned  to  Rome  to  be  honorably  retired  and 
to  end  his  days  in  a  luxurious  villa  in  the  hills,  having  en- 
joyed every  honor  possible  in  the  Roman  army  save  that  of 
being  Imperial  Legatus  over  an  entire  province,  a  post  or- 
dinarily combined  with  the  command  of  several  legions. 
It  is  men  like  Quadratus,  hard  and  fit  soldiers  of  absolute 
faithfulness,  coolness,  courage,  and  efficiency ;  steeped  in  the 
traditions  of  the  army,  and  obeying  automatically  the  call 
of  military  duty,  that  have  been  the  soul  of  the  Roman  war- 
machine.  Perhaps  some  day  there  will  be  degeneracy  in  the 
camps,  even  as  in  the  luxurious  city.  Then  the  perils  of  the 
Empire  will  draw  nigh  —  but  not  in  the  reign  of  Hadrian. 

280.  Care  for  Veterans:  Retiring;  Bonuses  and  Land 
Grants.  —  Few  enough  of  Quadratus's  messmates  kept  near 
to  him  in  his  upward  career.  To  the  average  recruit,  the 
most  to  be  hoped  for  is  that,  before  the  end  of  his  twenty 
years'  enlistment,  he  can  be  somewhere  near  the  rank  of 
centurion.  But  many  men  learn  to  enjoy  the  military  life 
even  as  privates,  and  when  the  time  for  honorable  discharge 
comes,  will  often  be  glad  to  reenlist  in  picked  corps  of 
veterani,  bronzed  and  hardened  warriors  who  make  invaluable 

330  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

scouts  and  bodyguards  for  the  upper  officers,  and  who  have 
quite  forgotten  the  modes  of  civilian  life. 

If,  however,  tfr  ey  elect  to  be  mustered  out,  not  merely  are 
there  accumulations  of  pay  and  donations  given  them  from 
the  legion's  savings  bank,  but  along  with  the  honesta  missio 
(honorable  discharge)  they  receive  either  a  grant  of  land  for 
a  modest  farm,  or  a  lump  sum  (some  3000  sesterces  — 
$120)  to  start  them  on  a  peaceful  career.  If  they  become 
sick  or  disabled  while  in  service,  reasonably  good  care  is  taken 
of  them.  In  any  case  the  constant  award  of  honorary  spears, 
pennons,  and  medals  appeals  to  the  soldier's  vanity,  and  helps 
to  reconcile  him  to  a  very  long  enlistment  and  an  equally 
stiff  discipline. 

281.  Barrier  Fortresses ;  System  of  Encampments ;  Flex- 
ible Battle  Tactics ;  Siege  Warfare.  —  Into  the  details  of 
the  Roman  war  machine  we  cannot  enter.  We  cannot  dis- 
cuss the  wonderful  system  of  barrier  fortresses  along  the 
junction  of  the  Rhine  and  Danube  upon  which  the  northern 
tribes  beat  in  vain,  nor  the  newly  completed  "  Wall  of  Ha- 
drian "  sundering  peaceful  and  guarded  Britain  from  the 
stark  savagery  of  Caledonia.  We  cannot  explain  the  scien- 
tific system  of  temporary  encampments,  whereby  every  night 
—  when  a  legion  is  on  the  march,  —  it  occupies  a  square  of 
ground  fortified  by  solid  palisades  and  with  every  tent  ia 
precisely  the  same  spot  as  in  the  old  camp  of  the  preceding 
night  —  a  method  insuring  that  every  camp  becomes  prac- 
tically a  fortress,  almost  impregnable  in,  case  of  a  defeat  in 
the  field.  We  cannot  visit  the  permanent  garrison  towns, 
such  as  Colonia  Agrippina  (Cologne)  on  the  Rhine,  or  Vindo- 
bona  (Vienna)  on  the  Danube,  where  extensive  cities,  with 
all  the  paraphernalia  of  civilization,  have  grown  up  around  the 
cantonments  on  the  very  edge  of  raw  barbarism. 

It  is  still  less  possible  to  offer  here  a  discussion  of  the  flexi- 
ble legionary  battle  tactics,  whereby  each  particular  foe  is 

The  Army 


met  with  the  formations  most  formidable  to  his  special  arms 
and  weaknesses ;  and  of  the  carefully  adjusted  order  of  march 
whereby  an  army  can  move  with  all  its  baggage  train  through 
a  hostile  country  defiant  of  any  ordinary  harassment  and 
flank  attack.  We  must  pass  over  also  the  system  of  siege 
warfare,  and  the  use  of  long-range  casting  engines  —  a  genu- 
ine artillery ;  and  finally  the  wonderfully  scientific  engineer- 

STORMING  A  BESIEGED  CITY  :  casting  engines  in  foreground. 

ing  service,  building  high-roads  through  deserts,  and  throw- 
ing strong  bridges  ever*  across  such  mighty  streams  as  the 
Rhine,  and  —  on  Trajan's  Dacian  campaigns  —  the  Danube. 
282.  Limited  Size  of  the  Imperial  Army :  its  Great  Ef- 
ficiency. —  Two  or  three  things  about  the  army,  however, 
call  for  particular  comment.  The  size  of  these  forces  seems 
decidedly  small,  considering  the  vast  extent  of  the  Empire, 
the  slow  communications,  the  careful  demilitarizing  of  the 
provincials,  and  the  absence  of  any  reserve  corps  or  efficient 
militia.  The  thirty  legions  (5000  to  6000  men  each)  reckon 

332  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

perhaps  175,000  troops  of  the  line.  The  Praetorians  at  Rome, 
the  heterogeneous  and  scattered  auxiliary  cohorts,  the  small 
naval  force,  and  other  armed  groups  at  the  command  of  the 
government,  in  all  reckon,  perhaps,  as  many  more ;  350,000 
men,  however,  is  a  very  limited  number  when  spread  out 
from  Britain  to  the  confines  of  Arabia  and  the  Nile  cataracts, 
although  only  along  the  Rhine,  the  Danube,  and  the  Eu- 
phrates are  there  now  enemies  creating  serious  military 

Except  at  Rome,  we  have  seen  that  the  bulk  of  these  troops 
is  held  in  the  frontier  garrisons,  with  all  their  corps  kept 
on  edge  in  full  battle  efficiency.  Let  a  frontier  be  in  real 
peril,  however,  and  there  is  no  means  of  reenf  orcing  the  local 
legions  save  by  calling  off  other  legions  from  posts  at  great 
distance.  Governmental  policy  has  not  merely  disarmed  the 
provincials,  it  has  systematically  discouraged  maintaining  the 
military  virtues.1  If  the  frontiers  are  forced  and  the  legions 
fail,  the  civilian  population  of  the  Empire  (possibly  some 
80  to  100  millions)  will  be  nigh  helpless  before  a  Parthian 
raid  or  Germanic  invader ;  they  can  only  call  on  the  gods 
and  the  distant  Emperor  for  aid.2 

1  The  process  of  demilitarizing  the  population  went  so  far  that  Trajan 
even  discouraged  the  organization  of  regular  bands  of  firemen  in  cities  of 
Bithynia  "lest  they  become  the  prey  of  factions"  —  i.e.  somehow  start 
a  movement  against  the  government. 

*  The  Roman  Empire  has  been  rightly  called  a  "military  monarchy," 
but  was  such  only  because  the  disarming  of  the  civilian  population  and 
the  extreme  efficiency  of  the  professional  army  put  the  former  at  the 
mercy  of  the  latter.  The  imperial  army  and  navy  hardly  exceeded 
350,000  men,  and  may  have  been  as  small  as  300,000.  At  the  time  this 
book  was  written  the  United  States,  with  a  population  not  greatly  ex- 
ceeding that  of  the  Roman  Empire,  had  a  total  of  some  250,000  men  in  its 
standing  forces  (army,  navy,  and  marine  corps)  not  counting  any  organ- 
ized militia.  Almost  nobody  would  have  pretended  that  the  addition  of 
some  100,000  men  to  this  force  could  have  rendered  a  "military  mon- 
archy" possible  in  America  except  as  very  peculiar  conditions  favored  it 
—  u  they  did  in  the  Roman  Empire. 

The  Army  333 

However,  as  yet,  the  legions  have  not  failed.  The  Roman 
armies,  never  large,  but  unsurpassed  in  quality  and  composed 
of  highly  expert  soldiers  steeped  in  martial  tradition,  and 
organized  and  commanded  with  scientific  skill,  lie  as  a  solid 
barrier  around  the  Mediterranean  world,  and  in  Hadrian's 
day  they  are  holding  back  possible  invaders  by  the  mere  ter- 
ror of  their  name.  When  one  looks,  marveling,  upon  the 
huge,  luxurious,  sophisticated  capital,  let  it  not  be  forgotten 
that  Rome  is  imperial  Rome  because  far  away  on  the  frontiers 
thirty  brigades  of  iron-handed  men  night  and  day  keep  watch 
and  ward. 


283.  Apparent  Authority  and  Importance  of  the  Senate.  — 
Powerful  is  the  army  and  powerful  its  Emperor,  yet  there  is 
a  body  to  which  they  both  pay  lip-service,  and  which  still 
enjoys  a  prestige  and  moral  authority  that  stamps  itself  upon 
the  imagination  of  every  man  in  the  Roman  Empire  — 
the  "  venerable  Senate/' 

Theoretically  the  Senate  shares  the  government  with  the 
Emperor,  controls  the  state  when  there  is  a  vacancy  in  the 
palace,  selects  the  new  ruler  and  bestows  on  him  the  "  pro- 
consular "  and  "  tribunician  power/'  —  the  legal  bases  of  his 
Authority.  It  must  be  consulted  by  him  in  every  important 
act,  and  when  he  dies  it  decides  whether  he  is  to  be  deified  as 
a  god,  or  suffer  the  awful  "  damnation  of  memory  "  (damnatio 
memories)  branding  him  for  all  time  as  a  tyrant.  It  can  also 
declare  him  suspended  or  deposed  from  office,  set  a  price  on 
his  head  and  order  the  armies  to  refuse  him  obedience.  Its 
formal  decrees  (senatiis  consulta)  constitute,  now  that  the 
old  public  assemblies  have  been  abandoned,  the  most  binding 
kind  of  law. 

The  Senate  also  governs  directly  all  of  those  provinces 
(about  hah*  of  the  whole  Empire)  which  do  not  require  any 
army  for  defense  or  control.  It  has  its  own  treasury,  and  it 
can  strike  copper  money,  although  gold  and  silver  are  reserved 
to 'the  Emperor,  making  a  considerable  profit  on  the  seignor- 
age.  It  acts  as  supreme  court  of  appeal  on  all  cases  which  rise 
in  the  provinces  under  its  government.  By  the  vote  of  its 
members  are  elected  all  those  "  old  Republican  "  magistrates 

A  Debate  in  the  Senate  835 

from  consul  down  to  quaestor  (treasury  supervisor)  which 
carry  along  with  the  temporary  glories  of  office  the  right  to  a 
life  seat  in  the  Senate  itself  —  making  the  latter  practically 
a  self-perpetuating  body.  A  good  Emperor  swears  at  thfc 
beginning  of  his  reign,  "  I  will  never  put  any  senator  to  death  " 
—  i.e.  the  Senate  shall  judge  all  capital  charges  against  its 
members,  even  those  involving  treason. 

Besides  these  prerogatives  senators  alone  are  eligible  for 
the  highest  military  commands  and  the  governorships  of  all 
the  larger  imperial  provinces.  As  already  stated  (see  p.  156), 
the  senators  in  addition  constitute  the  highest  aristocracy; 
they  must  each  possess  at  least  1,000,000  sesterces  ($40,000) 
taxable  property,  and  they  enjoy  all  the  influence  that  comes 
to  vested  prestige  and  wealth  in  an  age  that  cringes  to  titles 
and  fortunes.  On  this  showing,  the  600  senators  apparently 
constitute  the  most  powerful  organ  in  the  government. 

284.  Actual  Weakness  of  the  Senate.  —  Unfortunately 
much  of  this  brave  showing  is  only  a  glittering  mask.  The 
Senate  has  not  one  swordsman  in  Rome  or  in  any  of  its  prov- 
inces to  obey  the  summons,  "  Resist  the  Emperor  and  his 
Praetorians."  It  ordinarily  has  to  stand  helpless  while  the 
army  decides  who  is  to  be  the  next  Caesar  in  case  of  a  con- 
tested succession. 

After  Caligula's  murder  in  41  A.D.  the  Conscript  Fathers 
debated  earnestly :  "  Shall  we  restore  the  Republic  ?  If  not 
that,  which  aspiring  nobleman  can  we  elect  as  Emperor?" 
Meantime,  the  Praetorians,  pillaging  the  palace,  found  the 
terrified  and  demoralized  Claudius  hiding  in  a  closet ;  they 
dragged  him  forth  and  discovered  a  survivor  of  the  Caesars 
whose  dynasty  they  greatly  wished  to  perpetuate.  "  Ave 
Imperator!"  rang  their  shout.  Soon  the  senators  were  in- 
formed that  their  debates  were  unnecessary  —  Claudius  was 
being  proclaimed  in  the  Praetorian  Camp.  The  Fathers 
made  haste  to  bestow  on  Claudius  full  imperial  powers  and  to 

S36  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

congratulate  him  on  his  succession.     Nobody  doubted  after 
that  where  the  real  power  lay. 

Besides  all  this,  without  mentioning  the  army,  the  Emperor 
has  every  senator  personally  within  his  grasp.  He  can  strike 
any  member  from  the  album  (Senate  List)  by  use  of  his  irre- 
sponsible Censorial  Power.  Through  that  same  power  he  can 
appoint  any  favorite  to  the  order  by  his  mere  fiat.  In  the 
elections  held  within  the  Senate,  he  can  control  the  choice 
for  any  office  by  announcing"  that  he  favors  the  aspirations  of 
such  and  such  a  friend ;  the  "  Candidates  of  Csesar  "  are 
always  elected.  In  the  debates  it  is  a  bold  senator  who  dares 
to  face  the  unpopularity  of  opposing  the  Emperor's  sugges- 
tions ;  *  and  once  let  the  monarch  indicate  the  slightest  wish, 
a  whole  pack  of  servile  favor-seekers  will  instantly  champion 
the  proposition  with  fervent  loyalty.  Finally  by  his  "  tribuni- 
cian  authority  "  the  Emperor  caii  veto  any  senatorial  pro- 
posal which  he  dislikes.  The  power  of  the  "  venerable 
Senate  "  seems,  therefore,  to  have  vanished  in  thin  air. 

285.  Amount  of  Power  Left  to  the  Senate. — This  last  is 
not  quite  true,  however.  The  Caesars  do  not,  as  yet,  repre- 
sent an  unvarnished  despotism ;  they  need  a  cover  for  their 
autocracy,2  and  they  have  to  leave  to  the  Senate  a  certain 
show  of  power.  No  new  Emperor's  throne  furthermore  is 
secure  against  pretenders  until,  after  the  army  has  proclaimed 
him,  the  Senate  has  confirmed  him,  and  no  Emperor  likes  to 
feel  that  his  sole  refuge  is  with  the  irresponsible  swordsmen. 

1  Bad  Emperors,  e.g.  Domitian,  made  it  a  practice  to  speak  first  in  the 
Curia ;  any  senator  who  later  opposed  their  opinions  was  liable  to  charges 
of  disloyalty.  If,  however,  an  Emperor  spoke  last  he  also  left  the  ground- 
lings miserable  because  they  might  unwittingly  have  opposed  him. 

*The  last  avowedly  constitutional  "Princeps"  was  Alexander 
Severus  (murdered  235  A.D.)  ;  then  followed  the  military  monarchy. 
Aurelian  (270-275  A.D.)  took  on  practically  all  the  trappings  of  a  despot, 
and  with  Diocletian  (284  A.D.)  the  absolute  monarchy  existed  without 

A  Debate  in  the  Senate  337 

Besides  all  this,  the  moral  prestige  of  the  Senate  is  still  so 
great  that  even  a  Nero  or  a  Domitian  hesitates  to  flout  that 
famous  body  too  openly.  Finally,  be  it  said,  the  task  of 
governing  the  enormous  Empire  is  a  tremendous  burden. 
A  reasonable  monarch  is  glad  enough  to  throw  upon  the 
Senate  a  great  many  problems  over  which  the  "  Fathers  " 
can  exhaust  their  eloquence  and  which  they  probably  can 
settle  quite  as  wisely  as  he.  If  they  fail  and  the  case  is 
then  dutifully  referred  back  to  "  Csesar,"  his  own  importance 
becomes  all  the  greater.  If  they  succeed,  he  gains  a  reputa- 
tion for  moderation  and  liberality.  The  senators,  on  their 
part,  have  long  since  ceased  to  dream  of  restoring  the  old 
Republic.  Since  the  accession  of  Nerva,  96  A.D.,  an  era  of 
good  feeling  and  equilibrium  on  the  whole  has  existed.  The 
Senate  therefore  still  vaunts  itself  as  a  coordinate  branch  of 
the  Roman  government. 

286.  Organization  and  Procedure  of  the  Senate.  —  The 
Senate  of  the  Empire  exists  in  form  and  procedure  very  like 
its  predecessor  under  the  Republic.  Its  debates  are  the  talk 
of  the  capital  and  are  duly  reported  in  the  Acta  Diurna ; 
and  at  present,  with  Hadrian  out  of  the  city,  its  supreme  pre- 
siding officers,  the  two  consuls,  affect  to  be  the  most  powerful 
personages  in  Rome,  although  some  of  the  great  permanent 
ministers  on  the  Palatine,  and  especially  the  Praetorian  Pre- 
fect, have  firm  doubts  on  the  subject. 

When  Publius  Junius  Calvus  is  compelled  to  attend  sessions 
of  the  Senate,  he  has  ordinarily  been  informed  a  couple  of 
days  in  advance  by  a  motor  of  one  of  the  consuls  bringing  a 
personal  notice  to  his  home,  although  urgent  meetings  can  be 
summoned  on  much  shorter  notice  merely  by  sending  forth  a 
crier.  There  is  no  fixed  quorum  for  the  Senate;  although 
there  are  600  lawful  members,  many  of  these  are  high  govern- 
ment officials  absent  in  the  provinces,  others  are  retired, 
elderly  dignitaries  very  loath  to  quit  their  luxurious  ease  in 

338  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

their  Etruscan  or  Campanian  villas.  Since  the  post  of  sena- 
tor is  ordinarily  for  life,  the  body  contains  an  undue  propor- 
tion of  superannuated,  doddering  old  men  who  will  only  ap- 
pear on  great  occasions. 

Sessions  can  thus  be  held  with  only  a  very  thin  number, 
say  fifty,1  although  if  the  gathering  is  disgracefully  small, 
those  attending  can  shout  to  the  presiding  officer,  "  Numeral 
Numeral "  ("  Take  the  number ! ")  and  insist  on  adjournment 
until  the  consul's  tipstaffs  and  bailiffs  have  rounded  up  a 
respectable  fraction.  On  this  day  in  question,  however,  there 
is  no  danger  of  a  slim  attendance.  Every  member  in  Rome 
is  sure  to  be  present,  including  certain  invalids  who  have  to  be 
helped  out  of  their  litters  and  led  inside  by  their  freedmen. 

Sextus  Annius  Pedius,  ex-proconsul  of  Asia  has  been  im- 
peached by  Publius  Calvus  and  a  fellow  senator,  Titus 
Volusius  Atilius,  for  gross  extortion  and  malfeasance  in  his 
government.  The  ease  has  been  referred  to  the  Senate  by 
Hadrian  as  lying  within  its  special  competence.  Pedius  is  of 
the  highest  aristocracy,  but  like  most  great  men  has  made 
plenty  of  enemies.  Every  possible  social  influence  has  been 
mobilized  for  and  against  him.  A  great  state  trial,  with  an 
abundance  of  soaring  oratory  is  consequently  in  prospect. 
Every  senator  is  in  his  element. 

287.  The  Curia  (Senate  House)  and  Its  Arrangement  of 
Benches.  —  On  days  when  the  Senate  convenes,  the  clients 
can  stream  into  the  empty  atria  of  their  noble  patrons,  col- 
lect their  money  doles  and  depart  —  the  patrons  themselves 
have  set  off  at  first  dawn  for  the  council,  accompanied  very 
probably  (if  it  is  not  summertime)  by  link-boys  to  guide  them 
through  the  still  darkened  streets.  They  gather  thus  at 
prima  luce  in  the  rebuilt  Curia  at  the  Forum,  although  sessions 
can  be  held  in  almost  any  other  duly  consecrated  spot,  and 

1  The  law  required,  however,  a  mirn'mnTn  of  certain  specified  numbers 
for  the  passing  of  various  important  kinds  of  decrees. 

A  Debate  in  the  Senate  339 

Pompey  built  a  special  Curia  near  his  own  mansion  in  the 
Campus  Martius  for  use  when  he  wished  to  deliberate  with 
the  Fathers.1 

The  Curia  Julia  has  a  magnificent  hall  with  tiers  of  com- 
fortable and  highly  carved  benches  (subsellia)  Carving  in  a 
semi-circle  not  unlike  the  legislative  chambers  of  other  times. 
The  six  hundred  senators  sit  fairly  close  together,  so  that  the 
debates  can  be  in  easy  voice.  At  the  entrance  the  consuls' 
viatores  and  lictors  check  off  the  Fathers  entering  to  exclude 
interlopers,  but  there  is  no  real  secrecy.  The  doors  are 
numerous  and  stand  wide,  and  a  curious  crowd  is  permitted 
to  linger  around  them ;  especially  are  the  young  sons  of  a 
good  many  senators  seen  there,  eagerly  following  all  the  pro- 
ceedings wherein  they  hope  soon  to  have  a  part.  (See  p.  190.) 

Facing  the  benches  rises  a  low  dais  whereon  is  a  line  of 
curule  chairs  for  the  consuls  and  praetors,  also  a  long  solid 
settee  whereon  ten  of  the  younger  senators  sit  down  solemnly 
together.  These  ten  are  the  tribunes  of  the  Plebs,  —  shorn 
now  of  nearly  all  their  ancient  authority,  but  still  maintain- 
ing the  "  shadow  of  a  great  name,"  a  name  surviving  from 
the  time  when,  as  in  the  days  of  such  personages  as  Gaius 
Gracchus,  a  tribune  could  be  mightier  than  a  consul. 

288.  The  Gathering  of  the  Senators.  —  The  Fathers  drop 
into  their  seats.  No  law  adjusts  their  precedence,  but  eti- 
quette gives  the  front  row  to  the  ex-consuls,  the  next  banks 
to  the  ex-prsetors,  behind  them  the  former  sediles,  tribunes, 
and  quaestors  with  the  pedani2  (senators  who  have  never 
held  elective  office)  modestly  in  the  rear.  The  defendant 

1  He  did  this  because  as  holder  of  the  military  power  it  was  unlawful 
for  fri™  to  come  inside  the  consecrated  city  limits  (pomerium) ;  so  he 
built  a  suburban  Senate  House  outside  of  these  confines. 

1  So  called  because,  being  last  on  the  Senate  list,  and  seldom  called 
upon  to  speak,  they  could  express  themselves  with  their  "feet"  only 
—  i.e.  by  voting  when  they  walked  out  in  divisions  of  the  house. 

340  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

Pedius  attended  by  several  distinguished  senators,  his  rela- 
tives, all  clad  in  the  gray  togas  of  distress  and  mourning,  and 
also  by  his  two  advocates  both  in  conventional  white,  take 
seats  in  the  front  benches.  As  they  do  this  it  is  noted  as  of 
ominous  significance  that  several  ex-consuls,  who  had  come 
in  first,  promptly  shift  to  the  other  side  of  the  hall. 

At  the  center  of  the  platform  is  observed  a  majestic,  gilded 
statue  of  Victory,  with  expanded  wings,  flowing  robes,  stand- 
ing upon  a  globe,  and  stretching  forth  a  laurel  crown.1  Be- 
fore it,  upon  a  little  altar,  a  few  coals  are  smoking.  Presently 
a  door  at  the  side  of  the  platform  opens,  and  a  lictor  signs 
with  his  fasces.  The  chatter  across  the  now  crowded  hall 
ceases  instantly ;  all  the  toga-clad  figures  rise  together,  while 
the  presiding  consul,  Gaius  Juventius  Varus,2  leads  in  the 
array  of  magistrates,  each  in  the  ornate  toga  prsetexta. 

289.  Opening  the  Session :  Taking  the  Auspices.  — 
Gravely  this  official  company  seats  itself  in  the  curule  chairs ; 
gravely  Varus  casts  a  handful  of  incense  upon  the  altar  before 
the  Victory,  and  a  cloud  of  fragrance  fills  the  hall.  Then 
Varus,  a  tall  and  very  majestic  figure,  signs  to  the  senators ; 
they  also  are  seated,  next  his  voice  sounds  clearly:  "  Bring 
forth  the  chickens!" 

Not  a  lip  twitches  in  all  that  sedate  audience  as  two  attend- 
ants appear  upon  the  platform  setting  down  a  small  coop  con- 
taining a  few  barnyard  fowls.  The  consul  rises  and  stands 
beside  them;  next  to  him  takes  station  an  elderly  senator 
also  wearing  the  preetexta  and  holding  a  staff  with  a  pecul- 

1  Under  the  later  Empire  this  statue  (originally  set  up  by  Augustus) 
came  to  be  looked  upon  as  the  "Palladium"  of  Rome  and  its  removal 
from  the  Senate  House  in  384  A.D.  by  Valentinian  the  Second,  despite 
vigorous  protests  by  the  pagan  party,  was  looked  upon  as  an  official 
announcement  of  the  triumph  of  Christianity. 

*  The  other  consul  in  134  A.D.  was  Gaius  Julius  Servianius.  The  con- 
suls would  settle  as  to  their  presidency  from  day  to  day  either  by  mutual 
agreement*  by  taking  turns  in  rotation,  or  by  the  casting  of  lots. 

A  Debate  in  the  Senate 


iarly  shaped  spiral  head,  a  lituus  —  the  badge  of  office  of  an 
augur,  lawfully  entitled  to  proclaim  the  will  of  the  gods.  In  a 
dead  hush  the  servitors  pass  a  small  dish  of  grain  to  the  consul 
who  carefully  scatters  the  grain  within  easy  reach  of  the 
chickens.  The  latter,  carefully  starved  since  yesterday, 
snap  up  the  grains  eagerly. 
They  even  devour  so  fast 
that  the  wheat  drops  from 
their  bills,  a  most  excellent 
sign.  The  augur  bends  for- 
ward intently,  watching 
their  action,  then  motions 
with  his  staff  :  "  There  is  no 
evil  sight  nor  sound  !  "  he  an- 
nounces in  solemn  formula. 

A  mutter  of  relaxation 
passes  around  the  Senate. 
The  servitors  carry  out  the 
chicken  coop.  The  consul 
shakes  his  great  draperies 
around  him  with  studied  dignity  and  turns  to  the  waiting 
assembly.  "  Affairs  divine  "  have  been  attended  to ;  "  af- 
fairs human  "  can  now  begin. 

290.  Presentation  of  Routine  Business :  Taking  a  Formal 
Vote.  —  Even  under  the  Empire  it  is  a  glorious  thing  to  be 
consul,  with  the  twelve  lictors,  the  temporary  colleagueship 
with  the  Emperor,  and  the  right  to  preside  over  the  most 
magnificent  council  in  the  world.  Varus  carries  himself  with 
the  dignity  of  a  nobleman  who  has  enjoyed  a  long  career  in 
the  Senate  and  now  is  at  the  summit  of  his  aspirations. 
Every  tradition  of  the  ancient  body  has  been  cherished ;  and 
the  solemn  forms  still  differ  little  from  those  in  the  great 
conclave  that  piloted  the  overthrow  of  Carthage. 

The  chief  business  of  the  day  is  the  trial  of  Pedius,  but  a 


342  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

certain  lesser  matter  demands  prior  disposition.  The  consul 
has  received  a  dispatch  from  the  propraetor  of  Sicily  (a 
"  senatorial  "  province)  asking  if  he  can  be  empowered  to 
remit  the  taxes  of  certain  peasants  near  Agrigentum,  whose 
crops  have  suffered  from  the  blight.  Varus  begins  with  the 
time-honored  formula,  "  That  it  may  be  well  and  fortunate  to 
the  Roman  people,  the  Quirites,  we  refer  this  thing  to  you, 
patres  conscriptL"  Then  in  well-chosen  words  he  gives  the 
substance  of  the  governor's  request,  and  reads  certain  corre- 
spondence explaining  the  plight  of  the  peasants ;  having  thus 
finished  his  relatio  —  the  "  presentation  of  the  problem  "  — 
he  ends  with  another  formula,  "  What  is  it  your  pleasure  to 
do  concerning  this  matter  ?" 

If  the  business  be  contentious,  now  might  begin  a  vigorous 
debate ;  but  the  governor's  request,  based  on  wise  policy,  is 
not  worth  questioning  and  almost  everybody  wants  to  pro- 
ceed to  the  trial.  The  consul,  therefore,  after  a  pause,  de- 
mands, "  Is  it  your  will  to  grant  this  thing  ?  Let  then  all  the 
Conscript  Fathers  favoring  pass  to  the  right ! " 

One  garrulous  old  senator  anxious  for  a  chance  to  speak, 
indeed  begins  shouting  "Consuls!  Conside!"  ("  Take  coun- 
sel 1 "  —  i.e.  start  a  debate.)  If  many  others  join  him,  Varus 
can  be  forced  to  permit  a  long-winded  discussion ;  but  the 
troublemaker  is  without  a  second.  The  senators  with  one 
accord  seem  rising  and  passing  to  the  right  side  of  the  Curia. 
Nobody  ventures  to  go  to  the  left.  The  motion  thus  carries 
unanimously.  The  company  resume  their  seats;  then  all 
eyes  are  again  upon  the  consul  when  with  clear  voice  he  com- 
mands :  "  Let  the  accusers  of  Sextus  Annius  Pedius  stand 

291.  Presenting  an  Impeachment  at  a  Senate  Trial.  — 
Publius  Calvus  rises  from  the  front  benches  opposite  the 
defendant,  allows  the  many  folds  of  his  toga  to  fall  magnifi- 
cently around  him,  thrusting  them  back  just  enough  to  reveal 

A  Debate  in  the  Senate  343 

the  purple  laticlave  running  down  his  tunic,  and  carefully 
adjusts  a  ring  so  its  great  emerald  will  give  precisely  the  cor- 
rect flash  as  he  gestures.  Directly  behind  him,  inconspicu- 
ously garbed  stands  a  favorite  freedman,  avowedly  to  pass 
him  papyri  and  tablets  which  he  will  read,  but  really  quite  as 
much  to  whisper,  "  Drop  your  tones ! "  "  Speak  louder  1" 
or  "  Not  so  shrill  I"  and  like  promptings  as  the  oration  pro- 

The  Senate,  of  course,  cannot  be  expected  to  put  in  weary 
days  listening  to  intricate  and  sordid  testimony.  All  this 
has  been  taken  before  a  special  board  of  judges,  and  on  their 
report  there  is  no  real  doubt  of  Pedius's  guilt.  He  has  taken 
a  bribe  of  300,000  sesterces  ($12,000)  to  banish  a  Roman 
eques  from  his  province  and  has  put  seven  less-protected 
provincials,  friends  of  this  eques,  to  death ;  worse  still,  he 
has  taken  still  another  bribe  of  700,000  sesterces  ($28,000) 
for  committing  the  unspeakable  outrage  of  causing  yet 
a  second  eques  to  be  first  beaten  with  rods,  next  hustled 
off  to  the  mines,  then  actually  strangled  in  prison.  The 
prominent  provincials  from  Asia  have,  therefore,  presented 
an  absolute  case  against  their  evil  ex-governor.  The  lesser 
culprits  have  mostly  confessed  and  received  appropriate 
penalties  —  and  the  only  question  really  before  the  Senate 
is  fixing  the  punishment  of  Pedius. 

He  is  a  great  noble  with  great  connections.  Ought  a  sena- 
tor who  has  held  the  consulship  be  banished  and  ruined  even 
if  he  has  misgoverned  his  province,  taken  bribes  and  done  to 
death  an  eques  —  one  of  those  upstart  half-nobles  whom 
every  true  senator  should  scorn?  Pedius  does  not  lack 
friends  who  have  told  him  to  brazen  it  out,  and  that  no  severe 

1  This  trial  follows  closely  the  account  of  the  prosecution  of  Marius 
Priscus,  proconsul  of  Africa,  before  the  Senate  by  Pliny  the  Younger  and 
Tacitus  the  historian ;  but  in  Priscus's  trial  the  mere  oratory  actually 
took  three  whole  days !  (See  Pliny  the  Younger :  Book  II,  11.) 

344  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

penalty  can  befall  him ;  and  he  glares  defiantly  across  to  Cal- 
vus  as  the  latter  begins  his  argument. 

292.  The  Water  Clocks ;  Methods  of  a  Prosecutor ;  Ap- 
plause in  the  Senate.  —  Just  as  the  chief  prosecutor  com- 
mences, the  servitors  reappear  and  set  close  beside  him  a  large 
glass  vessel  upon  a  wooden  stand,  perforated  to  empty  slowly 
into  a  second  vessel  beneath,  and  when  thus  emptied  the 
upper  container  is  promptly  refilled.  Calvus  has  been  in- 
formed he  can  have  "  only  four  water  clocks  "  (about  two 
hours)  —  an  outrageously  insufficient  number  in  his  opinion, 
when  many  an  advocate  can  get  twelve  —  but  time  must  be 
given  the  other  orators  and  after  that  the  Senate  must  discuss 
and  vote. 

Speedily  Calvus  warms  to  his  task,  and  in  long  periods  of 
sonorous  Latin  his  voice  resounds  through  the  Curia.  He 
delights  to  expand  upon  the  enormity  of  the  crime  of  putting 
to  death  not  a  mere  provincial,  not  a  simple  Roman  plebeian, 
but  a  Roman  eques.  His  speech  abounds  with  elegant  and 
apparently  impromptu  allusions,  metaphors  and  similes  — 
duly  practiced  half  a  month  before.  He  goes  out  of  his  way 
to  pay  an  extended  and  fulsome  compliment  to  the  benignity 
and  liberality  of  the  Emperor  in  condescending  to  let  the 
Senate  settle  the  issue.  Words  at  length  almost  fail  him  whfcn 
he  calls  on  the  Fathers  in  the  name  of  Justice,  Virtue, 
Heavenly  Vengeance,  and  all  the  other  guardian  deities  of 
the  state  to  punish  the  hideous  misdeeds  of  such  a  criminal  as 

As  he  proceeds  the  Senate  kindles  at  his  eloquence.  First 
his  personal  friends  who  are  sitting  directly  behind  him  begin 
to  shout  "  Euge!"  and  "  Sophos!"  Then  the  applause  re- 
echoes from  all  over  the  hall.  Presently  the  occupants  of  the 
curule  chairs  on  the  platform  begin  to  clap,  the  consul  half 
rises  from  his  seat  as  if  transported  by  the  oratory,  and  even 
Pedius/s  own  advocates  politely  join  in  that  applause  which 

A  Debate  in  the  Senate  345 

Calvus  is  professionally  bound  to  return  with  interest  as  soon 
as  they  begin  to  speak  in  turn. 

Soon,  all  too  soon,  for  the  orator,  and  for  those  senators 
who  love  "  the  good  old  times,"  when  an  advocate  could 
thunder  all  day  long,  the  four  water  clocks  are  exhausted. 
Calvus  subsides,  to  be  immediately  surrounded  by  his  friends 
who  compare  his  efforts  to  those  of  Cato,  Hortensius,  Cicero, 
and  such  later  masters  as  Cornelius  Tacitus ;  while  the  freed- 
man  immediately  speeds  off  to  inform  Gratia  of  the  "  woixder- 
ful  triumph  "  of  her  husband  —  a  triumph  of  oratory,  what- 
ever be  the  actual  verdict. 

293.  Speech  for  the  Defendant:  Methods  of  a  Profes- 
sional Advocate.  —  After  order  is  restored  a  grave  old  senator 
—  Quintus  Saturius  —  arises  to  answer  the  prosecutor.  He 
is  a  professional  advocate  of  fame,  but  evil  report  has  it  that 
in  his  youth  under  Domitian  he  was  a  delator  (professional 
accuser),  and  won  a  fortune  by  prosecuting  the  innocent  vic- 
tims of  that  bad  Emperor's  disfavor.  Since  then  he  has  never 
been  squeamish  in  accepting  doubtful  causes.  The  law  only 
allows  him  10,000  sesterces  ($400)  as  the  fee  from  each 
legal  client,  but  the  latter  has  plenty  of  indirect  means  of 
showing  his  "  gratitude,"  and  Saturius's  wealth  now  is  enor- 
mous. This  morning  he  has  carefully  smeared  eye-salve 
above  his  left  eye  —  a  token  that  he  is  to  speak  for  the  defend- 
ant, not  over  the  right  as  if  for  the  plaintiff.  His  toga  also 
floats  in  billowy  folds,  his  hands  flash  with  costly  rings,  and 
his  powerful  voice  soon  booms  through  the  Curia. 

Saturius  does  not  waste  time  denying  that  many  of  Pedius's 
misdeeds  have  been  proved,  but  he  praises  at  great  length  his 
client's  "  glorious  ancestry  "  and  distinguished  social  con- 
nections. As  for  the  accusations,  —  what  if  he  did  abuse  his 
office  ?  Was  a  member  of  the  great  house  of  the  Annii  to  be 
held  down  to  the  sordid  rules  befitting  mere  plebeians  and 
f reedmen  ?  What  if  an  eques  had  been  wrongfully  done  to 


A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

A  Debate  in  the  Senate  347 

death?  Was  not  the  fellow  by  birth  a  Phrygian  who  had 
gained  first  citizenship  and  then  the  "  narrow-stripe  "  merely 
by  the  use  of  his  wits?  How  could  so  great  a  man  as  the 
Proconsul  of  Asia  be  expected  to  live  on  a  beggarly  salary  of 
1,000,000  sesterces  ($40,000)  ? 

At  this  point  Saturius's  voice  begins  in  fact  to  tremble  with 
pathos.  How  can  the  Conscript  Fathers  bring  themselves 
to  disgrace  all  the  defendant's  distinguished  relatives  who  just 
now  are  sitting  behind  him  in  the  gray  togas  of  public  mourn- 
ing ?  Think  of  his  distressed  wife  whose  father  and  all  three 
uncles  were  at  least  praetors !  Think  of  his  brother  who  had 
been  killed  bravely  fighting  the  Parthians !  Think  of  his  two 
sons  whose  public  careers  would  be  blighted  by  the  disgrace 
of  their  father !  Think  finally  of  the  Senate  itself  —  what 
contempt  upon  the  "  Venerable  Order "  if  one  of  its  most 
prominent  members  should  be  ruined  on  the  testimony  of 
mere  provincials  and  upstarts !  etc.,  etc. 

294.  Concluding  Speeches;  Interrupting  Shouts;  Per- 
sonal Invectives.  —  Saturius,  ere  concluding,  works  himself 
into  a  fine  passion.  He  also  gets  sallies  of  applause  —  mostly 
from  the  self -same  men  who  have  just  cheered  Calvus.  But 
at  some  of  his  assertions  there  are  murmurs  of  dissent,  and 
even  open  shouts  such  as  "  Drop  that  argument ! "  "  Don't 
insult  our  intelligence!"  Finally,  however,  he  sits  down, 
having  exhausted  his  four  water  clocks.  More  cheers,  more 
congratulations,  everybody  swears  to  his  neighbor  the  day  is 
proving  an  intellectual  feast. 

The  consul  proclaims  an  interim;  and  the  Conscript 
Fathers  adjourn  to  stretch  their  limbs,  snatch  a  hasty  colla- 
tion provided  by  their  attendants  and  discuss  the  arguments. 
Then  all  resume  when  Marcus  Petreius,  Pedius's  junior  advo- 
cate, continues  for  the  defense.  The  hostile  attitude  of  the 
Senate  has  impressed  the  defendant's  counsel,  and  Petreius 
enters  into  an  elaborate  appeal  for  mercy,  with  many  fine 

348  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

invocations  of  the  "  Divine  Clemency,"  and  reminders  of 
how  any  senator  might  some  day  find  himself  in  Pedius's 
horrid  predicament.  Petreius  is  allowed  "  less  water  "  than 
Saturius ;  he  gets  considerable  applause,  however,  when  he 
finishes,  but  knowing  members  shake  their  heads :  "  They 
cheer  his  oratory  and  not  his  cause/' 

In  fine  mettle  therefore  Titus  Atilius,  Calvus's  associate, 
next  sums  up  for  the  prosecution.  Atilius  is  a  relatively 
young  man,  as  yet  only  an  ex-qusestor;  and  to-day  is  his 
glorious  opportunity.  Carried  away  on  a  flood  of  invective, 
he  allows  himself,  as  is  permitted  by  usage,  to  cover  not 
merely  Pedius  but  even  Pedius's  advocate  with  a  storm  of 
bitter  personalities.  When  he  thunders  against  Saturius's 
sycophantic  career  there  are  wild  shouts  of  applause  from  all 
over  the  Curia ;  and  more  applause  follows  when  he  ridicules 
certain  physical  infirmities  of  the  miserable  defendant.1 
Pedius  rises  with  supplicatory  gestures  and  appeals  loudly 
to  the  ten  tribunes,  "  Oh,  very  noble  tribunes  protect  me ! " 
—  but  the  ten  sit  stolid  and  silent  upon  their  bench  and  he 
subsides  with  blenching  cheeks.  His  advocates,  exchanging 
knowing  glances,  are  seen  to  be  gathering  up  their  tablets. 

295.  Taking  the  Opinion  of  the  Senate.  —  At  last  Atilius's 
"  water  "  has  likewise  ended.  Amid  another  whirlwind  of 
applause  and  rush  of  congratulating  friends  he  takes  his  seat. 
The  consul  Varus  rises  with  extreme  dignity,  and  beckons 
with  his  hand.  Every  senator  instantly  is  tense  and  silent. 

"  We  do  now/'  proclaims  Varus,  "  take  the  opinions  (sen- 
tentice)  of  the  Conscript  Fathers  concerning  that  which  it 
befits  should  be  done  in  the  case  of  Sextus  Annius  Pedius 
this  day  arraigned  and  tried.  You  have  heard  his  accusers 
and  his  advocates.  I  shall  call  the  album  of  the  Senate/' 

1  Any  student  interested  in  the  coarse  and  violent  personalities  per- 
missible in  speeches  before  the  Senate,  should  read  Cicero's  speech 
"  Against  Piso." 

A  Debate  in  the  Senate  349 

He  holds  up  tablets  whereon  are  listed  the  senators  in  order  of 
official  rank  and  precedence;  then  turns  to  the  members 
seated  directly  before  him,  the  magistrates-elect  for  the  en- 
suing year,  summoning  first  the  senior  consul  designate, 
Appius  Lupercus : 

"  Die,  Apple  Luperce!" 

Appius  Lupercus,  an  elderly  aristocrat,  the  head  of  an 
ancient  family,  rises  amid  a  portentous  hush.  The  "  right 
to  speak  first,"  possessed  by  the  Emperor  when  present,  is 
invaluable.  All  the  orators  for  either  side  have  really 
aimed  their  best  arguments  toward  Lupercus,  knowing  his 
prerogative,  but  his  "  cold  looks  "  toward  Pedius  have  already 
fallen  as  ice  upon  the  friends  of  the  defendant.  His  voice 
now  carries  through  the  expectant  Curia. 

"  Conscript  Fathers :  —  It  is  true  that  Sextus  Pedius  is  a 
man  of  exalted  birth ;  the  more  shame,  therefore,  that  he  has 
disgraced  the  name  of  a  darissimus  of  the  Venerable  Senate. 
It  is  true  his  victims  were  either  provincials  or  citizens  of 
provincial  origin :  —  the  law  is  impartial,  the  Roman  Empire 
has  been  established  upon  the  inflexible  rule  of  '  piety  '  giving 
alike  to  gods  and  to  men  that  which  is  lawfully  their  due.  If 
he  has  outraged  provincials  the  case  is  clear ;  long  ago  the 
Emperor  Tiberius  expressed  the  ruling  policy  when  he  said, 
'  A  good  shepherd  shears  his  sheep  but  does  not  flay  them,' 
If  Pedius  has  also  outraged  citizens,  much  more  equites, 
wherein  lies  the  boast  '  Civis  Romanus  sum!  ',  if  these  men, 
whatever  their  original  birth,  cannot  demand  lawful  ven- 
geance at  our  hands  ? 

"  My  opinion,  therefore,  is  this :  let  the  defendant's  ill- 
gotten  bribes  be  confiscated  to  the  treasury,  and  let  Pedius 
himself  be  banished  from  Rome,  and  Italy ;  let  his  lesser 
confederates  be  banished  from  Rome,  from  Italy,  and  also 
from  the  Province  of  Asia.  Since  also  Publius  Calvus  and 
Titus  Atilius  have  pleaded  the  cause  of  the  provincials  with 

350  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

diligence  and  fearlessness,  let  them  receive  the  thanks  of  the 
Senate.  Such  is  my  opinion !" 

A  great  murmur  rises  —  applause  with  some  shouts  of  dis- 
sent. "  Hangman!"  "  Butcher!"  rise  from  the  little  knot 
of  Pedius's  relatives.  Then  Varus  calls  on  the  second  consul 
designate,  Atticus,  who,  rising  stiffly,  says  with  clear  voice,  "  I 
agree  with  the  most  noble  Lupercus,"  and  promptly  takes  his 

One  by  one  the  ex-consuls,  each  summoned  by  turn,  an- 
nounce that  they  also  agree  with  Lupercus,  until  one  cynical 
old  aristocrat,  the  ex-consul  Gavius,  notorious  for  his  own 
sensual  life  and  the  manner  whereby  he  enriched  himself  in 
Africa,  yet  powerful  through  his  vast  wealth  and  influential 
connections,  announces  that  he  is  confident  the  Senate  should 
show  mercy.  "  Let  Pedius  disgorge  the  money  and  forfeit 
the  priesthood  of  Mars  which  he  holds  —  that  will  be  punish- 
ment enough.  A  good  lesson  has  been  taught  and  the  unfor- 
tunate man  has  been  disgraced  enough  already." 

296.  An  Uproar  in  the  Senate:  an  "Altercation."  — 
Instantly  the  Senate  is  in  an  uproar.  The  short-hand  report- 
ers l  can  hardly  take  down  all  the  interrupting  shouts  that  are 
tossed  back  and  forth :  "  How  now,  Marcus  JSmilius  Gavius, 
will  you  let  such  a  scoundrel  go?"  "  What  are  those  pro- 
vincials but  scum  anyway ! "  etc.,  etc.  A  violent  "  alter- 
cation "  follows,  several  senators  rising  and  demanding  that 
Gavius  explain  himself.  The  old  reprobate  however  cleverly 
stands  his  ground,  and  is  vigorously  cheered  by  many  who  will 
not  actually  support  his  proposal. 

At  last  the  house  cools  down.  The  taking  of  the  opinion 
now  proceeds  among  the  praetors-designate  and  the  ex-prse- 

1  Short-hand  reports  of  the  Senate  meetings  were  taken,  and  seemingly 
embodied  everything  said,  including  even  the  applause  and  the  unfriendly 
interruptions.  We  do  not  know,  however,  whether  they  were  taken  by 
senators,  or  by  reporters  brought  in  for  the  purpose. 

A  Debate  in  the  Senate  851 

tors.  No  senator  can  speak  twice,  but  each  man,  when  on 
his  feet,  has  great  liberty  of  action  —  several  of  the  younger 
men  half  ironically  support  Gavius,  and  one  senator  earns 
unpopularity  by  insisting  on  his  right  of  the  floor  and  calling 
attention  to  the  embezzlements  reported  in  the  African 
municipality  of  Utica  —  a  matter  quite  beside  the  question. 
Two  or  three  long  and  eloquent  speeches  are  delivered  in 
favor  of  Lupercus's  stern  proposal.  It  is  growing  late  and 
nobody  wants  to  call  on  the  ex-sediles  and  other  junior  sena- 
tors,1 and  cries  are  rising,  "  Divide!  Divide!" 

297.  Taking  a  Vote  of  the  Senate.  A  Sentence  of  Banish- 
ment. —  Varus  again  rises,  "  Conscript  Fathers :  you  have 
heard  the  opinions  of  these  very  noble  men  of  consular  and 
praetorian  rank.  Two  propositions  are  before  you.  Those 
who  favor  the  penalties  for  Sextus  Pedius  proposed  by  Appius 
Lupercus  let  them  walk  to  the  right !  Those  the  lesser  pen- 
alty proposed  by  Marcus  Gavius  to  the  left." 

The  hundreds  of  togas  rise  together.  Gavius  is  not  without 
a  certain  minority  of  supporters  who  start  with  him  to  the 
left,  but  most  of  these,  seeing  how  many  ex-consuls  of  birth 
and  character  are  following  Lupercus,  desert  Gavius,  who  is 
left  with  only  a  trifling  band  around  him.  There  is  no  need 
for  Varus  to  count  the  result.  Even  while  the  Senate  is 
dividing  the  luckless  Pedius,  with  his  kinsmen  and  advocates, 
is  seen  gliding  through  a  side  exit.  It  is  the  defendant's  right 
thus  to  anticipate  sentence  and  to  slip  away  with  as  little 
ignominy  as  possible  into  exile. 

At  a  word  from  the  consul  the  senators  return  to  their  seats. 
The  long  shadows  of  evening  are  stretching  through  the  doors 
of  the  Curia,  as  Varus  announces  that  Sextus  Pedius  having 
been  convicted  of  high  crimes  is  banished  from  Rome  and 

1  Apparently  men  not  of  pr»torian  rank  rather  seldom  got  the  floor, 
although  in  highly  important  cases  the  presiding  officer  had  to  call  for 
sententios  down  through  the  ex-qu»stors. 

852  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

from  Italy.  He  must  quit  the  city  to-morrow.  He  must  quit 
Italy  in  twenty  days.  Should  he  tarry  or  return  he  will  be 
"  cut  off  from  fire  and  water/'  and  dealt  with  "  after  the 
ancient  custom  "  —  i.e.  he  will  be  scourged  with  his  head  in 
a  forked  stake,  then  sewed  in  a  bag  with  a  cock,  a  dog,  and 
a  viper,  and  flung  into  the  sea. 

Everybody  is  anxious  to  be  gone.  In  the  great  mansions 
six  hundred  expensive  cooks  are  fuming  over  the  delay  to  six 
hundred  expensive  dinners.  The  terrible  fate  of  Pedius  will 
make  talk  for  all  Rome  through  ten  days.  Varus  raises  his 
hand  and  at  length  pronounces  the  sonorous  ancient  formula, 
"  Nihil  ws  moramur,  patres  conscripti  "  —  "  We  detain  you 
no  longer,  Conscript  Fathers." 

Publius  Calvus  and  Titus  Atilius  are  escorted  homeward 
by  groups  of  fellow  senators  as  if  they  were  triumphant  gen- 
erals. Their  skill,  eloquence,  pathos,  and  legal  learning  are 
praised  to  the  skies.  Each  is  assured  that  "  he  has  rendered 
himself  and  his  friends  immortal!"  Each  to-morrow  will 
begin  rewriting  his  speech,  introducing  many  fine  arguments 
which  he  has  had  no  time  to  utter.1  These  will  be  embalmed 
in  his  published  works  which  will  be  presumably  carried  some 
day,  tied  to  poles,  in  a  conspicuous  place  in  his  funeral 

So  ends  a  typical  meeting  of  the  Senate  under  the  Empire ; 
noble  forms,  much  dignity,  a  perfect  river  of  eloquence,  a 
judicial  decision  in  this  case  conforming  with  justice,  but 
handling  no  great  issues  of  diplomacy,  high  finance,  or  peace 
or  war.  Already  Pedius's  friends  are  consoling  him,  as  he 
drearily  prepares  to  retire  to  Macedonia:  "  In  a  few  years 
at  worst  we  can  get  your  pardon  from  the  Emperor." 

1  As  did,  of  course,  Cicero  in  his  "  Orations  against  Verres,"  and  in 
other  orations. 





298.  Roman  Court  Procedure  Highly  Scientific. — If  Publius 
Calvus  does  not  have  to  attend  the  Senate,  two  places  will 
assuredly  devour  a  great  part  of  his  normal  day  — the  court- 
house and  the  public  baths.  Even  if  he  is  not  plaintiff,  de- 
fendant, or  witness,  like  every  man  of  his  class  he  delights 
in  listening  to  oratory,  and  etiquette  requires  that,  whenever 
one  of  his  numerous  friends  argues  a  case,  he,  with  as  many 
other  senators  and  equites  as  possible  should  sit  in  the  front 
of  the  audience,  to  "  lend  their  distinguished  influence,"  to 
lead  the  salvos  of  applause,  and  even  to  stand  up  conspicu- 
ously behind  the  orator  at  critical  points  hi  his  argument. 

Roman  courts  are  not  like  the  Athenian  dicasteries,  huge 
juries  of  many  hundreds,1  with  tumultuous  appeals  from  the 
letter  of  the  law  to  the  emotions  of  the  members.  Perse  lal 
influence  has  its  part,  but  everything  is  regulated,  orderly, 
scientific.  Cases  which  do  not  involve  the  safety  of  the  state 
or  the  fate  of  distinguished  personages  are  usually  argued 
coldly,  and  with  a  nice  attention  to  technicalities.  Your 
Roman  jurisconsult  (expert  in  the  law)  is  as  much  superior 
to  an  Athenian  in  developing  the  science  of  formal  justice,  as 
another  Athenian  might  be  to  a  Roman,  in  breathing  life  into 
chiseled  marble.  The  administration  of  law  is  intricate. 
There  are  courts  behind  courts,  with  final  appeal  either  to 

i  See  "A  Day  in  Old  Athens,"  p.  135. 


354  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

the  Senate  (as  we  have  just  seen)  or  to  the  Emperor.1  The 
"  law's  delays  "  are  perfectly  well  understood  by  adroit  advo- 
cates ;  and  Martial  records  a  case  that  took  twenty  years 
while  dragging  through  three  successive  courts  —  to  the  ruin 
of  both  sets  of  litigants. 

299.  The  Great  Tribunals  in  the  Basilicas.  —  If  we  visit 
the  great  basilicas,  we  find  two  kinds  of  tribunals  steadily 
functioning.  For  much  civil  business  there  is  the  great 
"  Court  of  the  Centumviri,"  a  board  not  of  "  One  Hundred  " 
but  actually  of  one  hundred  and  eighty  distinguished  citi- 
zens, who  sit  sometimes  all  together,  sometimes  divided  into 
four  groups  for  conducting  trials  simultaneously.  Their 
stronghold  is  the  Basilica  Julia.  It  is  a  great  honor  to  argue 
before  the  Centumviri,  and  every  advocate  exhausts  his 
wiles  to  induce  the  grave  judges  to  pay  him  the  highest  com- 
pliment (as  they  did  to  Pliny  the  Younger)  by  "  suddenly 
leaping  to  their  feet  and  applauding  him  as  if  they  could  not 
help  themselves." 

The  most  of  the  higher  litigation,  however,  goes  before 
judices.  A  judex  may  be  one  of  the  great  panel  of  4000 
citizens,  —  senators,  equites,  and  plebeians  of  substance  who 
can  be  called  upon  to  serve  as  a  kind  of  jury  for  ordinary 
trials  of  importance.  The  size  of  such  a  jury  depends  on  the 
nature  of  the  case  as  provided  by  statute,  —  you  can  have 
from  32  members  up  to  a  full  100.  There  is  a  high  judge 
over  the  entire  body,  either  the  praetor,  or  a  professional 
expert  in  the  law,  the  judex  quoestionis,  who  controls  the 
presentation  of  evidence  and  the  strictly  technical  parts  of 
the  trial. 

1  Very  few  civil  cases  involving  merely  private  rights  would  be  heard 
by  the  Emperor,  although  they  might  by  his  deputy,  the  Praetorian 
Prsefect.  Claudius  sometimes  seems  to  have  sat  on  the  tribunal,  out  of 
a  pedantic  sense  of  duty,  but  often  falling  asleep  until  the  advocates 
bawled  " O  Caesar! "  loudly  enough  to  wake  him. 

The  Courts  and  the  Baths  355 

After  the  evidence  has  been  submitted,  orally  or  in  writing, 
and  the  orators  have  exhausted  themselves,  the  jurors  take 
small  wax-covered  tablets  and  vote,  each  man  marking  simply 
letters :  A  =  absoho,  "Not guilty,"  C  =  Condemno,  "Guilty," 
N.L.  =  Non  Liquet,  "No  verdict."  A  bare  majority  can 
either  acquit  or  condemn,  but,  of  course,  no  man  is  condemned 
on  a  plurality,  and  a  tie  means  acquittal.  If  "  No  verdict " 
is  the  decision,  the  case  can  still  go  to  another  trial.  Roman 
juries,  therefore,  do  not  have  to  be  locked  up  for  days  to  com- 
pel them  to  agree. 

Jlowever,  this  jury  system  is  often  inconvenient  and  does 
not  adapt  itself  to  that  very  technical  justice  in  which  the 
Roman  jurisconsults  increasingly  delight.  More  and  more 
cases  are  being  tried  by  a  single  judex,  or  a  small  bench  of  jiir 
dices,  men  highly  trained  in  the  law,  and  especially  appointed 
by  the  praetor  or  other  high  official,  to  investigate  a  given 
case  and  report  their  findings.  Under  the  later  Empire  the 
large  juries  will  disappear  altogether,  and  a  few  professional 
judges  will  become  arbiters  alike  of  the  law  and  the  evidence 
—  an  excellent  system  from  the  standpoint  of  scientific  juris- 
prudence, but  not  so  excellent  if  these  judges  become  corrupt, 
pliable,  or  subject  to  class  prejudices. 

300.  Great  Stress  on  Advocacy.  —  Whatever  the  tribunal 
may  be,  great  is  the  stress  laid  on  the  arts  of  the  advocate. 
Calvus  has  served  a  long  probation  arguing  in  the  basilicas 
before  his  day  of  glory  came  in  the  Senate.  All  the  young 
Ciceros  in  the  rhetoric  schools  dream  of  the  hour  when  they 
can  stand  in  flowing  togas  before  the  high  raised  platform  of 
the  judices,  wave  their  arms,  throw  out  their  voices,  and  plead 
the  cause  of  some  widow,  or  arraign  some  embezzler  or  extor- 
tioner. The  mere  fact  that  senatorial  speeches  have  to  be 
extremely  careful,  lest  they  trench  upon  imperial  prerogative, 
puts  a  greater  premium  upon  private  argument  in  the  courts 
where  usually  "  Caesar  "  has  no  interests. 

356  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

The  rewards  of  successful  eloquence  are  great ; 1  and  if  the 
legal  fees  are  small,  rich  clients,  at  least,  never  fail  with  big 
New  Year's  presents,  and  with  legacies  in  their  wills.  Besides 
there  are  no  governmental  prosecuting  attorneys.  Criminal 
actions  can  be  started  by  any  citizen  against  any  possible 
offender.  To  reward  such  zeal,  a  good  part  of  the  fines  or 
confiscated  property  of  convicted  criminals  goes  to  the  self- 
appointed  prosecutor.  It  is  thus  easy  to  see  how,  under 
Tiberius,  Nero,  and  Domitian,  the  delators  ("  professional  ac- 
cusers ")  grew  fat  prosecuting  wealthy  senators  for  "  trea- 
son." These  good  days  for  the  profession  seem  over,  but  the 
incomes  of  certain  of  the  leading  advocates  are  princely, 
some  almost  vying  with  those  of  the  earlier  Vibius  Crispus 
and  Epirius  Marcellus,  who  had  over  200,000,000  ses- 
terces ($8,000,000)  apiece. 

301.  Cheap  Pettifogging  Lawyers.  —  On  the  other  hand 
Rome  is  infested  with  starving  pettifoggers,  pretentious 
wretches,  sleeping  in  dirty  tenements,  and  with  hardly 
decent  toga  to  wear  when  they  argue  on  petty  cases  in  the 
prefect's  court.  Sometimes  they  get  a  better  class  of  client, 
hire  a  good  robe  and  ring  to  wear  at  the  trial,  and  win  the 
case  in  the  Basilica.  Their  client  will  very  likely  decorate 
the  stairs  to  then*  tenement  with  palm  leaves,  but  as  the  only 
fee 2  send  them  a  quantity  of  uncertain  edibles  —  "a  dried- 
up  ham,  a  jar  of  sprats,  some  veteran  onions,  or  five  flagons 

1  "  Eloquence  "  was  looked  upon  as  indispensable  for  everybody  expect- 
ing any  kind  of  a  public  career.  Even  in  the  army  there  was  much 
speech-making  prior  to  a  pitched  battle.  Tacitus  speaks  of  how  an  army 
was  so  utterly  surprised  that  it's  general  "could  neither  harangue  his 
men  nor  draw  them  up  in  battle  array"  —  two  operations  apparently 
equally  necessary.  (Tacitus,  "  History,"  iv,  33.) 

1  litigants  were  required  by  law  to  take  oath  that  before  the  trial 
they  had  not  promised  any  sum  to  their  advocates  or  entered  into  any 
bargain  with  them.  After  the  trial  they  were  "allowed"  to  "offer" 
their  lawyers  not  over  10,000  sesterces  if  they  wished. 

The  Courts  and  the  Baths  357 

of  [very  cheap]  wine  that  has  just  sailed  down  the  Tiber  I" 
If  any  money  is  actually  paid,  lucky  the  advocate  who  does 
not  have  to  split  his  fee  with  some  agent  who  has  secured  the 
case  for  him  1 

302.  Character  Witnesses ;   Torture  of  Slave  Witnesses. 
—  One  thing  more  concerning  these  trials  must  be  noted: 
the  testimony  of  Roman  citizens  carries  much  greater  weight 
than  that  of  aliens,  and  the  unreliability  of  Grseco-Levantines 
is  notorious.     Freeborn  men,  Roman  or  v  provincial,  testify 
under  oath.    Only  accusers  have  the  right  to  compel  the 
attendance  of  unwilling  witnesses,  but  the  defense  can  bring 
not  merely  voluntary  witnesses  to  the  facts,  but  can  present 
as  many  as  ten  laudatoreSj  character  witnesses,  and  if  men  of 
high  standing  are  vigorous  in  their  friends'  praises,  their 
opinions  will  offset  very  many  ugly  facts  in  the  testimony. 

Frequently  enough,  however,  the  statements  of  slaves  have 
to  be  taken.  These  wretches,  having  little  better  status 
before  the  law  than  animals,  can  only  testify  under  torture. 
No  master,  nevertheless,  except  in  cases  of  treason,  can  ordi- 
narily be  compelled  to  let  his  slaves  testify  against  him,  but  it 
is  assumed  that  torture  is  necessary  if  a  master  voluntarily 
offers  his  slave  as  witness,  —  for  what  slave  would  dare 
uncompelled  to  say  anything  unwelcome  to  his  master  in 
view  of  the  terrific  flogging  waiting  after  he  gets  home  ?  The 
situation  in  short  as  to  slave  testimony  is  substantially  as  in 
Athens.1  This  use  of  the  rack  and  flogging  post  is  one  of  the 
worst  blots  upon  the  highly  scientific  and  usually  reasonable 
and  humane  judicial  system  of  Rome. 

303.  Written  Evidence ;  High  Development  of  the  Advo- 
cate's Art.  —  On  the  other  hand  much  weight  is  given  to 
reliable  written  evidence.    Public  documents  from  the  record 
office,  and  the  careful  entries  on  bankers'  ledgers  are  contin- 

i  See  "A  Day  in  Old  Athens,"  p.  138. 

358  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

ually  being  introduced  as  testimony.  Much  of  the  forensic 
oratory  also  is  of  a  high  order.  The  rhetoric  schools  have 
not  taught  their  better  pupils  in  vain ;  despite  much  silly 
display,  "  appeals  to  the  emotions,"  and  artificiality,  the  art 
of  advocacy  has  never  completely  lost  touch  with  the  promo- 
tion of  justice ;  and  usually  the  verdict  goes  still  to  him  who 
best  meets  Cato  the  Elder's  pungent  definition  of  the  true 
orator,  vir  bonus,  dicenda  peritus  ("  the  good  man  versed 
in  the  art  of  speech  "),  and  who  recalls  that  great  republi- 
can's classic  injunction  for  all  advocates  —  rem  tene,  verba 
sequerdur  ("  Grasp  the  subject  and  the  words  will  follow").1 

In  all  matters  not  touching  certain  high  interests  the  Roman 
courts  are  perhaps  as  disinterested  and  clean  as  human  tri- 
bunals can  well  be,  and  the  average  judex  is  charged  with  a 
passionate  desire  to  do  that  which  is  formally  right.  In  the 
courts  the  spirit  of  Rome  is  often  to  be  seen  at  its  best. 

304.  Popularity  and  Necessity  of  the  Baths.  —  As  the 
afternoon  advances,  however,  unless  the  case  is  extremely 
urgent,  or  the  advocates  unwontedly  skilful,  the  impassive 
toga-clad  figures  upon  their  high  seats  of  the  tribunals  begin 
to  show  signs  of  uneasiness.  The  pleaders  themselves  reach 
in  turn  a  suitable  climax,  as  the  last  filling  of  the  water 
clocks  runs  out  j  —  if  necessary  they  can  finish  their  casti- 
gations  or  then*  excuses  to-morrow.  The  courts  are  adjourned, 
and  judges,  litigants,  advocates,  spectators,  all  hasten  from 
the  Basilicas  possessed  with  the  thought  which  is  common  to 

1  Space  lacks  for  a  discussion  of  the  formal  training  of  the  Roman 
lawyer-orators,  or  concerning  those  public  recitations  which  sometimes 
were  the  means  of  winning  even  greater  reputation  than  any  ordinary 
successes  in  the  courts. 

Some  of  these  recitations  in  hired  halls,  with  the  audience  carefully 
sprinkled  with  a  paid  claque,  were  worse  than  pedantic  and  artificial. 
Pliny  the  Younger,  although  he  denounced  the  use  of  a  claque,  repeated 
with  pleasure  how  he  gave  a  reading  from  his  own  works  and  plays  which 
lasted  two  days,  4< necessitated  by  the  applause  of  my  audience'";  and 
boasted  how  he  "had  not  allowed  himself  to  skip  one  word." 

The  Courts  and  the  Baths  359 

nigh  every  man  in  Rome  not  of  the  most  unfortunate  class  — 
"To  the  Baths!" 

The  warm  Italian  climate  makes  frequent  ablutions  not 
merely  comfortable  but  necessary,  but  in  the  stern  old  days 
of  the  earlier  Republic  Seneca  specifically  assures  us  that  the 
fathers  of  Rome  were  not  wont  to  wash  all  over  of tener  than 
once  a  week  (nundince).1  Long  before  the  age  of  Hadrian, 
however,  a  daily  bath  became  a  personal  necessity.  No 
dinner  can  be  enjoyed  without  it.  No  respectable  man  can 
feel  comfortable  deprived  of  it. 

As  the  bathing  habit  grows,  its  luxury  and  elaboration 
grow  correspondingly.  The  daily  bath  becomes  a  social 
ceremony,  and  the  bathing  place  becomes  almost  as  indis- 
pensable as  the  forum,  or  the  triclinium.  Other  peoples  and 
ages  may  equal  or  surpass  the  Romans  in  actual  cleanliness ; 
none  can  develop  institutions  really  corresponding  to  the 
enormous-  public  therma  scattered  over  the  capital.2 

305.  Luxurious  Private  Baths.  —  Probably  every  senator 
and  all  the  more  pretentious  equites  have  sumptuous  private 
baths  in  their  own  mansions.  Here  they  can  go  when  visits 
to  the  public  thermae  are  inconvenient,  or  to  refresh  them- 
selves between  the  long  courses  of  their  great  dinner  parties. 

The  luxury  of  these  private  baths  can  be  so  prodigious  as  to 
afford  constant  texts  for  the  Stoical  philosophers.  Seneca 
has  waxed  almost  frantic  telling  how  an  aristocrat  feels 
somewhat  poverty-stricken  unless  "  the  walls  [of  his  bath] 
shine  with  great  costly  slabs,  and  marbles  of  Alexandria 

1  The  Roman  week,  nundin&,  had  eight  days  —  seven  working  days, 
then  a  market  day.  The  Jewish  week  of  seven  days  (hebdomas)  became 
known  to  the  Romans  by  the  time  of  Pompeius  Magnus,  but  it  was  not 
generally  adopted  until  Christianity  became  the  state  religion. 

*  Undoubtedly  along  with  this  incessant  bathing  there  often  went  the 
presence  of  much  squalor,  dirt,  obnoxious  insects,  etc.  which  seem  ines- 
capable in  Mediterranean  countries.  Probably  many  persons  injured 
their  health  by  excessive  and  debilitating  bathing. 

360  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

tricked  out  with  reliefs  in  stone  from  Numidia,  and  with  the 
whole  ceiling  elaborately  covered  with  all  varieties  of  paint- 
ings, and  unless  Thasian  marbles  inclose  the  swimming  pool, 
and  the  water  gushes  out  of  silver  taps  " ;  likewise  "  how  many 
a  rich  freedman  adorns  his  baths  with  fine  collections  of 
statues  and  a  multitude  of  pillars  supporting  nothing  but 
serving  only  as  ornaments."  Essential,  too,  are  such  private 
baths  for  those  so  devoted  to  the  enjoyment  that  they  in- 
sist on  bathing  several  times  a  day. 

306.  Government  and  Privately  Owned  Public  Baths: 
Both  Very  Popular.  —  Even  great  nobles,  however,  enjoy 
the  society  and  recreations  afforded  by  the  public  establish- 
ments ;  and  there  is  often  no  better  way  for  a  rich  senator 
to  display  pomp  and  circumstance  than  to  enter  one  of 
the  huge  thermae  followed  by  a  long  train  of  slaves,  freed- 
men,  and  clients.  Men  of  business,  and,  of  course,  mere 
toilers  must  visit  the  baths  when  their  duties  give  temporary 
leisure,  but  for  everybody  who  can  control  his  time  there 
is  one  preferable  period  —  the  eighth  or  ninth  hour,  two  or 
three  P.M.  It  is  around  this  time  that  the  bath  attendants 
heat  all  their  huge  tanks  to  boiling  and  make  ready  with 
an  endless  supply  of  anointing  oils  and  "  strigils  "  (metal 
scrapers)  to  care  for  the  onrush  of  the  multitudes. 

There  are  about  sixteen  enormous  public  baths  in  Rome 
owned  by  the  government,  although  often  their  care  is  leased 
to  contractors.  Small"  baths,  privately  owned,  opened  to  any- 
body at  a  tolerable  fee  and  managed  solely  for  profit,  exist 
in  addition  all  over  the  city,  and  nearly  nine  hundred  stand 
licensed  on  the  City  Prefect's  books.  Some  of  these  pri- 
vately owned  baths  are  elegant  establishments,  offering  great 
luxuries  at  corresponding  prices. 

The  keepers  of  a  bath-house  (balneatores)  rank  low  in  social 
estimation,  for  many  of  their  places  are  the  scenes  of  gross 
reveling  and  debauchery;  but  there  is  excellent  money  in 

The  Courts  and  the  Baths  361 

the  business.  Their  baths  have  names  something  like  inns, 
and  going  about  the  metropolis,  we  have  noticed  the  "  Baths 
of  Daphne,"  "  The  ^Eolian,"  "  The  Diana,"  "  The  Mercury," 
or  they  are  simply  called  from  the  names  of  the  owners,  as 
"  Faustinian  Baths  "  or  "  The  Crassian."  On  a  signboard 
one  can  read  that  the  "  Thermae  of  Marcus  Crassus  "  offer 
both  salt-  and  fresh-water  baths.1 

307.  The  Great  Baths  of  Trajan :  Baths,  Club-House,  and 
Caf 6.  —  However,  if  one  would  see  and  meet  the  world,  a 
visit  to  the  great  public  baths  is  absolutely  necessary.  Some 
of  these  are  located  on  the  outskirts  of  the  capital;  for 
example,  the  magnificent  Baths  of  Agrippa  stand  near  the 
Pantheon  in  the  Campus  Martius ;  but  only  a  short  distance 
from  Publius  Calvus's  mansion  on  the  Esquiline  rise  what 
are,  perhaps,  the  finest  public  thermae  as  yet  existing  in 
Rome,  those  of  Trajan,  which  were  rebuilt  on  the  site  of  a 
similar  establishment  earlier  erected  by  Titus.2 

The  Baths  of  Trajan  constitute  more  than  a  vast  establish- 
ment where  perhaps  a  thousand  persons  can  bathe  in  the  vari- 
ous tanks  and  pools  simultaneously.  They  supply  many  of 
the  needs  which  another  age  will  meet  partly  by  the  club- 
house and  partly  by  the  cafe.  They  are  frequented  by 
women  as  well  as  men,  although  the  former  are  expected  to 
make  their  visits  particularly  during  the  morning  hours  and 
certain  special  rooms  are  set  aside  for  their  use.  These  rules, 
however,  are  often  violated,  and  scenes  can  take  place  at  the 

*An  actual  inscription.  From  the  small  provincial  towns  we  have 
other  inscriptions,  advertising  bath-houses  "in  city  style  (more  urbico) 
and  fitted  with  every  convenience." 

2  The  great  Baths  of  Caracalla  (built  tire.  215  A.D.)  and  those  of 
Diocletian  (arc.  300  A.D.)  were  not  in  existence,  of  course,  in  the  days 
of  Hadrian.  Their  ruins  are  at  present  among  the  most  imposing  in 
Rome,  and  they  were  probably  somewhat  larger  than  the  Baths  of 
Trajan,  which  are  to-day  nearly  demolished,  but  their  aspect  and  general 
arrangement  were  hardly  different. 

362  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

Baths  of  Trajan  which  from  the  standpoint  of  a  later  time  are 
simply  indescribable. 

308.  Heterogeneous  Crowds  in  the  Great  Baths.  —  One  of 
the  glories  of  the  great  thermae  is  their  apparent  democracy. 
Any  freedman  is  entitled  to  make  use  of  them,  although  there 
are  doubtless  special  recreation  and  reposing  rooms  reserved 
for  the  rich  elect.  In  theory  the  public  baths  are  free,  but 
except  on  gala  occasions  when  the  Emperor  wishes  to  win 
popularity,  there  is  usually  a  standard  charge  for  admission 
of  a  quadrans,  a  small  copper  coin  (about  -J-  cent).  This 
simply  covers  the  expense  of  the  attendants  who  look  after 
one's  clothes,  and  provides  the  oil  for  anointing  —  the  use  of 
the  magnificent  building  goes  for  nothing. 

In  such  a  place  persons  of  every  station  can  be  seen  min- 
gling together,  social  barriers  partially  break  down,  and  a 
delightful  informality  prevails.  It  is  recorded  of  Hadrian 
that  when  he  is  in  the  city,  he  proves  his  "  liberal  "  habits  by 
frequenting  the  public  baths  and  bathing  in  the  great  pools 
along  with  the  meanest  of  his  subjects.  Every  afternoon, 
therefore,  the  thermae  are  the  scenes  of  intensely  bustling 
life.  The  noise  rising  from  their  great  halls  is  terrific  —  the 
shouting,  laughing,  splashing,  running,  exercising,  going  on 

The  Romans  are  preeminently  a  sociable  people.  They 
delight  in  the  free  and  easy  contacts  of  the  baths.  What 
place  has  witnessed  more  financial  bargains  struck,  quarrels 
started  or  abated,  lawsuits  arranged,  marriage  treaties  nego- 
tiated, philosophical  theories  spun,  artistic  points  discussed, 
or  even  matters  of  imperial  policy  promoted  than  the  thermae 
of  Trajan?  At  the  thermae  are  continued  all  those  matters 
you  talked  over  in  the  Forum  this  morning  and  which  you 

1  Houses  near  private  baths  were  counted  undesirable  for  residence  or 
investment  purposes  on  account  of  the  noise,  which,  in  private  baths, 
often  kept  up  late  into  the  night. 

The  Courts  and  the  Baths 


will  finish  on  the  supper  couches  to-night.  The  place,  how- 
ever, to  a  stranger  is  utterly  bewildering  in  its  hugeness, 
its  noise  and  the  hurrying  of  its  crowds  and  its  complexity, 
and  few  scenes  in  Rome  could  be  more  novel  to  a  visitor  from 
another  civilization. 

a  iiimiMiiMiinmiiim   BHiiiimiiniiiinnnnnmr 

PLAN  OF  ROMAN  PUBLIC  BATHS  :  partly  conjectural. 

309.  Entering  the  Thermae.  —  We  can  follow  Calvus  as 
he  approaches  by  the  great  southern  portal  which  looks  down 
from  the  slopes  of  the  Esquiline  upon  the  great  gray  cylinder 
of  the  Flavian  Amphitheater.  Before  us  stretches  an  enor- 
mous portico,  fronting  a  high  masonry  wall,  of  course  crowned 
at  many  points  with  statues.  The  entrance  is  relatively 

364  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

narrow  in  order  to  control  the  thousands  of  persons  streaming 
inside,  each  passing  his  copper  to  the  attendants  at  the  gate. 
But  once  past  the  barrier,  we  see  before  us  the  vista,  apparently 
not  of  a  bathing  establishment,  but  of  an  ample,  inclosed 
park,  girded  on  every  side  with  handsome  porticoes,  scattered 
with  trees,  bright  shrubbery,  and  groups  of  sculpture,  but 
with  the  domes  seemingly  of  a  magnificent  palace  rising  from 
the  middle  of  the  area. 

This  park  is  teeming  with  life ;  young  men  in  the  scantiest 
of  costume  are  running  races  on  a  long  sandy  track,  others 
are  tossing  ball,  others  engaged  in  a  wrestling  contest,  Greek 
fashion,  before  a  crowd  of  spectators  wedged  upon  seats 
along  a  kind  of  stadium.  In  a  kind  of  kiosk,  or  small  temple, 
in  a  remote  corner  behind  the  shrubbery  a  venerable  man  with 
the  long  beard  of  a  philosopher  is  expounding  the  theory  of 
atoms  to  a  small  but  select  audience.  We  are  told  that  there 
are  also  (mice  for  learned  conventicles,  likewise  excellent 
libraries  within  the  central  building. 

310.  Interior  of  the  Baths:  the  Cold  Room  (Frigida- 
Tiurri).  —  This  building  itself  is  an  enormous  mass  of  brick 
and  concrete,  formed  into  correspondingly  enormous  vaulted 
apartments  and  domes,  their  entire  surface  covered  with 
polished  marbles  or  at  least  with  brilliantly  colored  stucco. 
At  every  point  there  are  statues,  singly  and  in  groups,  his- 
torical and  mythological,  in  the  round  or  in  high  reliefs,  in 
stone  and  in  bronze.  Particularly  to  be  noted  is  a  marvelous 
if  overrealistic  Laocoon  group  destined  to  be  celebrated 
through  the  coming  ages.1 

It  boots  little  to  describe  all  the  special  chambers  and  fea- 
tures of  the  Baths  of  Trajan ;  we  can  only  notice  those  prime 
features  common  to  all  public  thermae  even  in  the  provincial 
cities.  The  great  mass  of  visitors  makes  for  the  hall  of  the 

1  The  famous  group  of  Laocodn  and  his  sons,  now  in  the  Vatican,  was 
found  in  the  ruins  of  these  Baths  of  Titus  and  Trajan. 

The  Courts  and  the  Baths  365 

frigidarium  ("  cold  room  "),  a  vast  unheated  space,  albeit 
comfortable  enough  on  a  warm  Italian  afternoon.  Here  they 
toss  off  their  garments,  to  their  own  personal  slaves  if  they 
are  visitors  of  consequence,  although  there  is  a  great  force  of 
regular  attendants  (capsarii]  whose  prime  business  it  is  to 
take  charge  of  togas  and  tunics.  For  all  their  pains,  thefts 
of  clothes  in  the  baths  are  very  common  and  give  rise  to 
frequent  uproars. 

Once  stripped,  even  the  gravest  and  oldest  visitors  are  likely 
to  indulge  in  all  kinds  of  gymnastics  and  horseplay.  If  they 
do  not  go  outside  to  limber  themselves  with  tossing  ball  at 
trigon  (see  p.  206)  or  with  amateur  races  in  the  stadium,  there 
are  plenty  of  diversions  in  the  frigidarium  itself.  One  can 
behold  the  "  Very  Noble  "  Varus,  the  presiding  consul,  for- 
getful of  all  official  dignity,  competing  with  an  imperial  lega- 
tus,  both  with  their  hands  tied  behind  them  and  trying 
by  leaning  backward  to  touch  their  heads  against  the  tips  of 
their  toes ;  while  a  praetor,  an  hour  earlier  an  austere  judge 
in  the  Basilica  ^Emilia,  is  leaping  up  and  down  "  murdering 
a  good  song  by  trying  to  sing  it."  l 

311.  The  Great  Swimming  Pool  and  the  Tepidarium.  — 
All  this  is  usually  preliminary  to  a  splashing  plunge  into  the 
clear  cool  ncdatio,  the  great  swimming  pool  of  unheated  water, 
which  is  nearly  200  feet  long  by  100  broad,  and  in  which 
scores  of  Rome's  noblest  dignitaries  now  are  to  be  seen  splash- 
ing, swimming,  and  cavorting,  with  perfect  self-respect  beside 
a  much  greater  number  of  the  plebeians.  For  the  many  who 
do  not  prefer  a  warm  bath,  this  is  sufficient  refreshment  on  a 
summer  day,  and  presently  they  will  call  their  attendants  to 
bring  towels,  strigils,  and  ointments  and  hasten  home.  But 
your  true  habitue  makes  almost  as  much  of  his  baths  as  of  his 
dinners.  He  delights  in  hot  baths  and  all  the  refreshments 

1  Petronius's  "Satyricon"  gives  a  vivid  and  informing  picture  of  the 
amusements  and  horseplay  in  the  therm®. 

366  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

that  go  with  them.  "  People  want  to  be  parboiled,"  once 
declared  Seneca  disgustedly. 

A  hot  bath  involves  an  elaborate  process.  Often  one  will 
omit  the  frigidarium  with  its  cold  shock,  or  take  it  later.  In 
any  case  one  goes  on  to  a  second  enormous  chamber,  perhaps 
the  finest  in  the  whole  building.  A  majestic  dome  soars  over 
broad  pavement.  The  pillars  and  the  fretwork  on  the  ceil- 
ing and  vaulting  groan  with  heavy  gilding.  The  groups  of 
statues  flanking  each  of  the  huge  marble-incrusted  piers  are 
themselves  of  heroic  size.  The  light  streams  down  over  the 
polished  marbles  of  the  walls  and  pendentives,  upon  hundreds 
of  persons  lolling  about  on  stone  benches,  conversing,  or 
lazily  meditating.  A  warm  mist  is  rising ;  one  feels  as  if  in 
a  plant  house  of  tropical  exotics,  while  the  elaborate  mosaic 
designs  are  pleasantly  warm  ujider  one's  bare  feet. 

Such  luxury  of  course  is  enjoyed  in  the  tepidarium  where 
the  bathers  are  gently  warmed  before  the  actual  hot  bath. 
It  is  an  oblong  hall,  nearly  as  large  as  the  great  cold  swimming 
tank,1  and,  as  stated,  the  decorations  are  almost  overpower- 
ing in  their  richness.  Anybody  will  explain  that  the  floors 
are  composed  largely  of  hollow  tHes  through  which  warm 
air  of  just  the  right  temperature  is  being  continually  forced 
from  the  great  system  of  charcoal  furnaces  ("  hypocausts  ") 
located  in  the  substructures  of  the  thermae. 

312.  The  Hot  Baths  (Caldana) :  Their  Sensuous  Luxury. 
—  At  intervals  some  person  rises  from  the  couches  and  hastens 
away  to  one  of  the  smaller  chambers  located  at  the  four 
corners  of  the  tepidarium.  These  are  the  actual  ccddaria 
(hot  baths),  wherein  a  perpetual  fine  steam  is  rising.  The 
water  here  is  so  hot  that  only  experienced  bathers  can  find  a 
plunge  in  the  large  prophyry  tanks  enjoyable.  If  one  can 

1  The  tepidarium  in  the  later  Baths  of  Diocletian  was  about  300  feet 
long  by  92  feet  wide,  but  probably  that  in  the  Baths  of  Trajan  was  some- 
what smaller. 

The  Courts  and  the  Baths  367 

endure  the  heat,  however,  soon  it  becomes  a  kind  of  stupid 
bliss  to  lie  back  motionless  in  the  heated  water,  gazing  up- 
ward to  the  vaulted  ceiling  which  is  skilfully  painted  in  a 
deep  blue  interspersed  with  trees,  foliage,  birds,  and  gilt 
stars,  as  if  one  were  dropping  off  to  slumber  in  the  forest 
some  summer  evening !  If  the  acme  of  life  is  merely  sensuous 
enjoyment,  what  can  existence  offer  greatly  surpassing  this ! 

After  you  have  lain  quiescent  in  the  caldarium  until  its 
pleasure  has  begun  to  pall,  the  proper  thing  next  is  to  pass  to 
the  laconicum.  Here  the  hypocausts  have  heated  the  floor 
and  walls  with  an  intense  dry  heat.  The  bathers  loll  again 
upon  marble  slabs,  and  first  are  dried  off  and  then  burst  into 
a  profuse  perspiration.  The  ceremony  of  the  bath  is  at  last 

Your  slaves  or  the  regular  attendant  now  will  scrape  you 
down  with  the  thin  flexible  bronze  strigils,  rub  you  thoroughly 
with  towels,  and  anoint  you  with  unguents,  the  more  costly 
and  highly  perfumed  the  better.  In  the  numerous  small 
chambers  around  the  great  laconicum,  open  for  special  fees, 
there  is  a  greater  luxury  still ;  —  here  such  elderly  magnates 
as  Varus,  or  even  young  noblemen  of  the  more  effeminate 
type,  will  be  elaborately  massaged  and  finally  rubbed  down 
with  very  soft  woolen  blankets,  by  at  least  three  expert 
masseurs  working  together.  After  such  an  experience  surely 
body  and  mind  ought  to  be  prepared  for  the  pleasures  of 
the  dinner  party. 

313.  Restaurants,  Small  Shops,  and  Sports  in  or  around 
the  Baths.  —  Very  much  more  might  be  added  about  the 
Great  Baths.  For  those  people  who  wish  to  linger  until  the 
edge  of  meal  time,  there  is  no  need  to  go  hungry.  Close  by 
the  entrance  are  numerous  restaurants  (popinci)  of  more  than 
ordinary  elegance.  Here  you  can  send  your  slave  for  sweet 
cakes,  slices  of  toasted  honey  bread,  sausages,  eggs,  and  like 
viands;  and  in  the  great  frigidarium  and  tepidarium  the 

368  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

peddlers  from  these  restaurants  are  always  going  about  with 
trays  of  such  food,  crying  their  wares  and  making  the  ordinary 
bedlam  so  much  the  greater.  Directly  in  the  thermae  them- 
selves are  small  shops  for  the  sale  of  fine  perfumes  and  un- 
guents ;  and  often  in  the  corridors  and  antechambers  you  can 
find  crowds  gazing  at  special  displays  of  paintings,  or  of  new 
statuary  —  for  the  public  baths  are  practically  the  art  gal- 
leries of  Rome. 

As  for  the  frequenters  of  the  baths,  here  even  more  than  in 
the  fora  are  the  trysting  spots  for  parasites.  Let  an  ap- 
proachable nobleman  be  seen  lolling  at  ease  in  the  tepidarium 
and  h'e  is  instantly  spotted  by  some  dinner  hunter.  Innu- 
merable are  the  attentions  that  can  then  be  paid  him.  Does 
he  wish  to  play  handball  ?  —  The  parasite  retrieves  for  him. 
Does  he  lay  aside  a  fine  garment  ?  —  At  once  "  his  remarkable 
taste  "  is  praised  to  the  skies.  Does  he  lie  perspiring  in  the 
laconicum  ?  His  "  friend  "  tries  to  anticipate  the  slaves  in 
wiping  the  sweat  from  his  brow.  No  act  is  too  obsequious  — 
all  in  hopes  of  hearing  those  delightful  words,  "  Come  home 
and  dine !  "  In  the  halls  of  the  women  similar  scenes  are 
enacted,  but  we  cannot  pursue  them. 

At  last  the  sun  dials  that  stand  in  every  open  spot  around 
the  thermae  indicate  that  the  afternoon  is  well  spent.  From 
the  laconicum  the  refreshed  bathers  return  to  the  milder 
tepidarium,  to  recover  from  the  shock  of  the  intense  heat 
and  to  resume  their  garments.  Then  the  crowds  all  hasten 
out  again.  Some  of  the  privately  owned  bathing-places 
may  remain  open  all  night,  but  the  great  thermae,  lately  the 
scene  of  such  boisterous  life,  stand  vast,  dark,  and  empty. 

314.  The  Great  Porticoes  along  the  Campus  Martins. 
The  Park  System  towards  the  Tiber.  —  The  public  baths  are 
not  the  only  places  for  daily  enjoyment  which  a  solicitous 
government  has  provided  for  the  quirites.  The  fora  are 
limited  and  the  city  proper  is  very  closely  built,  but  around  its 

The  Courts  and  the  Baths  369 

outskirts  and  especially  to  the  north  and  west  there  is  a  gen- 
uinely magnificent  park  system.  The  beginnings  of  this  are 
reached  after  you  go  through  the  Forum  of  Trajan  and  follow 
along  "  Broadway."  Here  are  the  great  porticoes  and  prom- 
enades of  the  Ssepta  Julia.  The  famous  stores  (see  p.  228) 
are  mostly  on  the  east  side  of  the  avenue  verging  off  towards 
the  slopes  of  the  Quirinal,  but  the  west  side,  going  clear 
across  the  broad  Campus  Martius  to  the  Tiber,  is  more 
strictly  public  property. 

This  wide  level  area  formed  by  the  great  bend  in  the  river 
has  long  since  ceased  to  be  a  mere  parade  ground  for  the 
army.  There  are  broad  masses  of  greenery,  grateful  shade 
trees,  spreading  over  neatly  graveled  walks,  as  well  as  liter- 
ally miles  of  lofty  porticoes  stretching  in  every  direction  and 
giving  comfortable  places  for  strolling  in  bad  weather.  The 
greatest  of  these  porticoes  is,  of  course,  the  long  Ssepta  Julia, 
but  there  is  a  succession  of  others,  so  that  you  can  almost 
wander  from  the  Column  of  Trajan  across  the  Campus  clear 
to  the  ^Elian  Bridge  completely  defiant  of  any  rain. 

In  the  open  pleasure  grounds  there  are  always  people 
exercising  without  the  restraints  inevitable  at  the  thermse, 
playing  ball,  wrestling,  exhibiting  horses  and  chariots,  as 
well  as  very  many  children  chasing  about  with  hoops.  If 
legionaries  are  passing  through  the  city,  their  leathern  tents 
probably  stand  here,  and  here,  too,  can  be  held  all  the  vast 
open-air  pageants  which  cannot  accommodate  themselves 
inside  any  building. 

315.  Public  Buildings  upon  the  Campus  Martins.  —  Out 
of  the  lofty  trees,  however,  there  rise  still  loftier  structures. 
Two  of  the  great  public  thermae,  those  of  Nero  and 
Agrippa,  are  here  upon  the  Campus  Martius.  In  this  region, 
also,  are  three  of  the  principal  theaters,  that  of  Pompeius, 
accommodating  some  25,000  people,  and  two  others  (Theaters 
of  Marcellus  and  Balbus)  only  slightly  smaller.  Here  is 

370  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

the  Flaminian  Circus  and  the  Amphitheater  of  Taurus  for 
those  horse  races  and  gladiator  fights  which  do  not  demand 
the  huge  Circus  Maximus  or  Flavian.  Here  again  is  the 
golden-roofed  Pantheon  and  a  great  number  of  other  temples 
to  such  ill-assorted  gods  as  the  Egyptian  Serapis  and  Isis, 
Neptune,  Minerva  of  the  Campus,  and  the  old  Latin  god- 
dess Juturna.  Notable,  too,  are  the  triumphal  arches 
raised  across  several  of  the  broad  avenues. 

You  can  in  fact  wander  on  across  this  region  from  one 
marvelous  structure  to  another  until  the  eye  and  brain  be- 
come weary  trying  to  enumerate,  much  more  to  comprehend 
the  succession  of  buildings  every  one  of  which  is  a  triumph  of 
marble  and  of  sculpture.  Pressing  on  to  the  marge  of  the 
Tiber  itself,  the  river  above  the  commercial  bridges  is  seen 
covered  with  gay  pleasure  skiffs  plying  about  under  bright 
flags.  The  shores  are  lined  with  handsome  little  houses, 
usually  decorated  in  the  doors  with  potted  shrubs  or  boughs 
of  foliage.  Innocent  they  look  in  the  day  time  but  at  night 
when  their  windows  blaze  with  lamps  they  will  be  veritable 
traps  of  iniquity  for  the  enjoyment  and  then  the  ruin  of  the 

316.  The  Tombs  of  Hadrian  and  Augustus.  —  Across 
the  river  near  its  main  bend,  can  be  noticed  the  green  slopes 
of  the  hill  of  the  Vatican  uncrowned  as  yet  by  any  temple  of 
fame,  but  with  the  suburban  Circus  of  Nero  stretching  along 
its  slopes.  Directly  across  the  current,  also,  is  rising  the 
enormous  circular  mass  of  the  Mausoleum  of  Hadrian,  vith 
the  derricks  and  staging  still  above  it  swinging  to  place  the 
last  of  that  galaxy  of  statues  which  will  look  down  upon  the 

We  do  not  cross  over  to  the  new  structure,  but  proceed- 
ing along  the  bank  to  the  point  where  the  Via  Flaminia 

1  The  Tomb  of  Hadrian  was  not  actually  completed  until  139  A.D.  — 
after  his  death. 

The  Courts  and  the  Baths 


CASTLE  OF  ST.  ANGELO  :  Tomb  of  Hadrian  in  its  present  state. 


A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

continuing  "  Broadway  "  bears  down  beside  the  river,  we 
see  before  us  the  older  but  very  majestic  Mausoleum  of 
Augustus.  It  lifts  itself  fully  220  feet  in  the  air,  its  base 
composed  of  a  vast  cylinder  coated  with  sculptured  marbles, 
above  which  there  is  heaped  a  conical  mound  of  earth,  planted 
with  evergreen  trees,  while  on  the  summit  stands  a  colossal 

TOMB  OF  HADRIAN.    Restored  after  Von  Falke. 

statue  of  its  mighty  builder  himself.  Within  repose  the  urns 
not  merely  of  Augustus,  but  of  nearly  all  the  worthier  mem- 
bers of  the  imperial  families. 

These  are  only  some  of  the  features  of  the  Campus  Martius 
which  foreign  visitors  such  as  Strabo  acclaim  as  the  most 
remarkable  section  of  Rome,  if  not  the  one  most  charged  with 
her  past  history.  Time  fails  to  visit  the  other  great  public 
pleasure-grounds  upon  the  slopes  of  the  Pincian  —  the 
"  Gardens  of  Lucullus  "  and  the  "  Gardens  of  Sallust,"  or 
that  other  wide  park  northeast  of  the  Esquiline,  the  "  Gar- 

The  Courts  and  the  Baths  373 

dens  of  Maecenas/'  presenting  yet  other  vistas  of  shrubbery, 
groves,  promenades,  and  green  lawns,  interspersed  with  pleas- 
ure pavilions.  It  behooves  us  now  to  return  to  Rome  and  to 
visit  some  of  the  most  important  centers  of  its  life  —  the 
theater,  the  amphitheater,  and  the  circus. 



317.  Roman  Festivals :  Their  Great  Number.  —  One 
thing  only,  besides  a  long  session  of  the  Senate,  ordinarily 
will  keep  men  of  the  class  of  Publius  Calvus  away  from  the 
great  thermae  —  the  celebration  of  one  of  the  greater  Pub- 
lic Games. 

The  Ludi  Publid,  around  which  so  large  a  part  of 
Roman  life  revolves,  like  the  Pan-Hellenic  games  and  similar 
Greek  festivals,  always  have  religious  origin;  they  are  in 
honor  of  some  god  or  group  of  deities.  But  the  secular  has 
long  intruded  into  their  routine.  Nobody  worries  greatly 
about  the  fact  that  the  Ludi  Apollinares  are  for  the  glory  of 
Apollo,  save  perhaps  as  one  adds  an  extra  fervent  invocation 
of  the  Delphian  god  during  the  placing  of  wagers.  The  time 
consumed  by  the  Public  Games  represents  a  period  of  recrea- 
tion and  festival,  which  other  ages  will  find  in  Sundays  and 
Saints'  Days. 

Altogether  there  are  some  76  days  per  year  normally  set 
aside  for  these  great  Ludi  Sollemnes,  including  such  prolonged 
periods  as  those  of  the  Ludi  Romani  or  Magni  which  extend 
from  September  4th  to  18th,  on  a  stretch,  with  several  others 
for  six  days  and  more.  When  to  these  periods  are  added 
various  extra  or  very  special  holidays,  during  which  the 
ordinary  life  of  the  city  is  broken  up,  the  courts  are  closed,  and 
only  the  most  necessary  labors  of  commerce  and  industry 
are  conducted,  it  is  plain  that  the  plebeians  and  even  the 
slaves  get  pretty  ample  respite  in  their  year  of  toil.  Without 


The  Public  Games  375 

attempting  a  close  study  of  the  official  lists  of  holidays  it  is 
safe  to  say  that  the  average  Roman  gains  many  more  periods 
of  lawful  vacation  than  the  laboring  classes  can  enjoy  in 
other  ages,  —  another  factor  which  tends  to  make  the  metrop- 
olis abound  with  idlers  and  parasites. 

318.  Passion  for  Public  Spectacles:  Mania  for  Gam- 
bling. —  Besides  the  great  public  theaters,  amphitheaters,  and 
race  courses  (circuses)  there  are  many  smaller  private  estab- 
lishments. Good  money  can  be  made  from  gladiator  fights 
and  chariot  races,  and  they  are  often  given  by  speculators, 
although  more  frequently  in  a  provincial  town  than  in 

The  passion  for  such  spectacles  and  contests  is  incredible ; 
—  no  "  baseball  "  or  "  football  "  of  another  era  can  so  mo- 
nopolize the  popular  mind.  The  wagering  on  all  kinds  of 
contests  is  incessant  in  every  insula,  shop,  or  mansion,  and,  of 
course,  ordinarily  it  is  entirely  lawful.  Only  the  few  select 
spirits  cry  out  vainly  against  the  passion,  although  Juvenal's 
famous  protest  will  echo  across  the  centuries,  "  The  Roman 
people  who  once  gave  commands,  consulships,  legions,  and 
all  else  now  yearn  simply  for  two  things  — free  bread  and  the 
Public  Games  r 

The  government  doubtless  encourages  this  tendency.  If 
the  multitude  is  engrossed  with  the  merits  of  two  charioteers, 
so  much  less  is  the  scrutiny  upon  strange  doings  at  the  Pala- 
tine ;  yet  even  excellent  emperors  give  very  elaborate  specta- 
cles as  a  kind  of  lawful  tribute  to  the  multitudes  of  that  city 
which  affords  them  their  right  to  the  purple.  After  the 
conquest  of  Dacia,  Trajan  celebrated  his  victory  by  giving 
contests  which  lasted  123  days,  during  which  10,000  wild  and 
domestic  animals  were  said  to  have  been  killed  and  10,000 
gladiators  fought,  although  probably  most  of  the  latter  were 
allowed  to  survive.  So  incessant  in  fact  are  the  contests  of 
some  variety,  that  rare  is  the  day  when  a  thunderous  roar 

376  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

does  not  reverberate  over  the  city  telling  that  the  "  Blue  " 
or  "  Green  "  jockeys  have  won,  or  a  favorite  gladiator  has 
plunged  home  his  trident. 

319.  Expenses  of  Public  Spectacles  to  Great  Officials.  — 
Naturally  the  cost  of  these  contests  is  enormous.  The  presi- 
dency and  supervision  of  them  is  distributed  around  among 

AT  THE  THEATER  ENTRANCE.    After  Von  Falke* 

the  magistrates,  with  the  chief  glories  and  burdens  falling 
usually  upon  the  consuls  and  praetors.1  The  State  gives 
each  official  a  respectable  sum  to  pay  for  the  spectacles,  but 
this  falls  far  short  of  the  actual  cost.  The  glory  of  presiding 
in  the  central  box  at  the  Flavian  Amphitheater  or  Circus 
Maximus  is  so  great  that  a  magistrate  is  bound  to  sacrifice  a 

1  Under  the  Republic  the  jediles  had  to  preside  over  very  expensive 
games.  Augustus,  however,  turned  the  Cura  Ludorum  ("supervision  of 
the  games")  over  to  the  praetors,  and  the  aediles  only  gave  spectacles 

The  Public  Games  377 

good  share  of  his  entire  patrimony  in  order  to  make  a  fine 
display,  to  win  the  "  Ave !  "  of  the  populace,  and  to  hold  up 
his  head  among  his  noble  rivals.  When  Hadrian  was  praetor, 
his  kinsman,  Trajan  the  Emperor,  gave  him  personally 
4,000,000  sesterces  ($160,000)  towards  the  cost  of  those 
games  which  the  prsetorship  demanded. 

Our  Publius  Calvus,  with  no  imperial  connection,  deliber- 
ately saved  and  economized  for  years  prior  to  his  elevation 
to  the  prsetorship,  and  during  his  term  of  office  he  spent  almost 
as  much  energy  in  corresponding  with  a  friend  who  was 
legatus  of  Numidia  to  get  African  leopards,  and  negotiating 
with  certain  racing  interests  to  secure  a  very  desirable  jockey, 
as  he  did  in  settling  a  certain  great  lawsuit  before  his  tri- 
bunal. One  good  set  of  chariot  races  can  cost  400,000  ses- 
terces ($16,000),  and  some  of  Calvus's  richer  colleagues  have 
found  the  praetors'  games  coming  to  a  dozen  times  as  much. 
He  congratulated  himself,  therefore,  on  getting  out  of  office 
for  about  half  their  outlay ;  as  it  was  he  had  to  live  very 
sparingly  for  the  next  two  years,  and  sell  off  a  villa.1 

320.  Indescribable  Popularity  of  the  Games.  —  Every- 
body in  Rome  attends  the  games.  Once  slaves  were  for- 
bidden to  be  present,  but  that  law  had  broken  down  several 
generations  ago.  Few  are  the  masters  that  risk  the  unpopu- 
larity of  refusing  to  let  their  familia  frequent  at  least  the  more 
famous  contests.  The  waiting  litter  bearers,  the  idling  foot- 
boys,  all  the  parasitical  menials  about  the  great  mansions 
discuss  every  coming  event  most  frantically  and  wager  all 
the  coppers  which  their  masters  give  them  upon  the  outcome, 
and  their  zeal  is  matched  by  the  ragged  plebeians  who  infest 
the  fetid  insulse,  or  sleep  under  the  porticoes. 

Seemingly  half  of  Rome  exists  only  from  one  chariot  or 
gladiator  exhibition  to  another.  Every  contest  is  a  display 

1  In  the  later  Empire  we  hear  of  the  case  of  Symmachus,  an  office- 
holder whose  games  cost  him  2000  pounds  of  gold,  about  $400,000, 

S78  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

cf  social  importance.  The  front  seats  are  assigned  to  the 
magistrates,  who  occupy  curule  chairs  in  the  order  of  their 
rank ;  there  are  other  seats  of  honor  for  the  senators,  others 
directly  behind  them  for  the  equites.  If  the  Emperor  is 
present,  he  sits  in  a  special  box  (cubiculum),  which  Trajan 
with  democratic  condescension  caused  to  be  thrown  wide  open 
that  all  the  spectators  might  see  him. 

These  seats  of  honor  are  free,  but  the  great  multitude  of 
well-to-do  spectators  are  expected  to  purchase  tickets  for  all 
the  better  ranges  behind  the  tiers  of  the  equites.1  The  prices 
ordinarily  are  low,  but  concerning  these  tickets  there  is  a 
complaint  not  unknown  in  another  age:  that  the  box- 
officers  (locarii)  in  charge  buy  up  many  reserved  seats  for 
the  more  popula/games,  then  sell  them  over  again  at  an  out- 
rageous advance.  However,  behind  these  reserved  seats 
there  are  still  a  certain  number  of  others  thrown  open  free 
to  the  first  comers,  and  behind  these  is  a  wide  space  where 
plebeians  and  slaves  can  stand  as  a  gesticulating,  shouting, 
steaming  mass,  gazing  down  on  the  spectacles  below. 

321.  The  Theater  Less  Popular  than  the  Circus  or  Amphi- 
theater. —  The  public  exhibitions  are  three  general  kinds,  — 
the  theatrical  performances,  the  circus  races,  and  the  gladia- 
torial combats. 

For  the  great  masses,  the  theater  can  never  have  the  same 
vulgar  appeal  possessed  by  its  two  rivals ;  on  the  other  hand 
some  men  of  intelligence  and  rank  do  not  hesitate  to  dis- 
miss the  latter  as  "  for  the  mob  "  and  affect  a  great  contempt 
for  charioteers  and  "Thracians."  Even  the  most  sophis- 
ticated Romans,  however,  never  are  true  Athenians.  Trage- 
dies dealing  with  profound  human  problems,  such  as  won 
trophies  for  JSschylus  and  Sophocles,  would  fall  absolutely 

1  Italian  audiences  stowed  very  close.  According  to  the  marking  upon 
the  stone  seats  in  the  theater  at  Pompeii,  only  16  inches  were  allowed  for 
each  spectator. 

The  Public  Games 


flat  beside  the  Tiber.1  There  is  even  a  growing  distaste  for 
the  better  kind  of  comedies.  What  delights  the  Roman 
audience  in  the  theater  most  is  some  kind  of  elaborate  horse- 

The  stage  as  a  rule  is  long  and  narrow,  some  120  by  24  feet, 
and  is  raised  only  about  three  feet  above  the  orchestra  where 


a  chorus  can  dance  and  parade.2  The  rear  of  the  stage  has  a 
fixed  background  painted  to  represent  the  front  of  a  palace ; 
it  is  pierced  by  three  doors,  and  is  adorned  with  columns  and 
niches  for  the  inevitable  statues  of  the  Muses,  of  Apollo,  and 
of  like  deities.  A  large  curtain,  not  dropped  from  above 

1  High-flying  tragedies  were  indeed  ground  out  by  Seneca  and  by  many 
inferior  literary  dabblers,  but  these  "dramas"  were  hardly  intended  to 
be  genuine  acting  plays,  but  only  to  be  read  aloud. 

2  The  ancient  orchestra  was  of  course  for  the  dances  of  the  chorus, 
never  for  seating  the  spectators. 

380  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

but  rolled  up  from  the  bottom,  can  uncover  the  most  amazing 
spectacles  upon  this  stage.  Long  ago  Horace  complained 
of  how  a  Roman  audience  would  depart  discontented  if  the 
play  did  not  require  in  its  middle  "  either  a  bear  or  a  boxing 
match."  For  four  hours  and  more  the  curtain  is  "  kept 
down  "  while  "  squadrons  of  horse  and  bodies  of  foot  are  seen 
flying,  while  luckless  kings  with  hands  tied  behind  their 
backs  and  chariots  of  all  kinds  and  even  ships  go  hurrying 
along,  and  while  spoils  of  ivory  and  Corinthian  brass  are 
borne  by  in  state." 

There  are,  however,  two  kinds  of  performances  more  cer- 
tain to  crowd  the  theater  than  these  very  cheap  spectacular 
plays  —  they  are  the  mimes  and  pantomimes. 

322.  The  Mimes :  Character  Plays.  —  The  mimes  are  a 
native  Latin  product,  although  they  have  a  certain  kinship 
with  the  Greek  "  New  Comedy."  They  are  character  plays 
of  everyday  life  without  the  actors'  masks  and  buskins ;  and 
they  are  always  coarse,  vulgar,  and  in  the  nature  of  roaring 
farces..  The  language  is  often  exceedingly  gross  and  the 
situations  frequently  match  the  language.  The  actors  wear 
a  kind  of  harlequin  costume,  extremely  grotesque,  and  along 
with  the  chief  mimus,  who  takes  the  leading  part,  there  is 
usually  a  second  actor  who  draws  thunderous  applause  from 
the  upper  benches.  He  is  the  strepidus  or  parasitus,  a  kind 
of  pantaloon,  a  clown  with  puffed  cheeks  and  shaven  head, 
who  has  to  stand  a  great  amount  of  boisterous  slapping  from 
the  chief  actor. 

Other  parts  can  be  taken  by  women,  who  are  forbidden  to 
appear  on  the  stage  in  "  legitimate  "  tragedy  and  comedy. 
Often  the  dances  and  postures  of  these  actresses  are  inde- 
scribably vulgar,  and  their  reputation  for  e'asy  conduct  is  too 
well  established.  For  all  that,  their  presence  brings  unsteady 
youths  to  the  theaters  like  flies,  and  affairs  with  actresses  are 
quite  normal  things  with  a  type  of  young  bloods.  Once 

The  Public  Games  381 

Cicero  was  defending  a  free  and  easy  client,  a  certain  Plancus. 
"  He's  accused  of  having  run  off  with  an  actress?  "  declared 
the  advocate.  "  Why  that's  just  an  amusement  excellently 
sanctioned  by  custom !  " 

The  stories  portrayed  by  the  mimes  correspond  with  their 
general  character :  —  a  robber  chief  befooling  the  clumsy 
constables  sent  to  take  him,  a  lover  surprised  by  the  return 
of  a  jealous  husband  and  forced  to  hide  in  a  large  box,  a 
beggar  who  suddenly  stumbles  into  a  fortune,  a  descent 
into  the  world  of  ghosts,  episodes  revolving  around  the  in- 
troduction of  a  very  clever  trained  dog,  etc.  Some  of  the 
acting  is  of  high  order,  but  there  are  few  mimes  which  do 
not  abound  in  lines  and  situations  extremely  gross,  —  for 
all  that  the  open-air  theaters  are  packed  from  morn  until 

323.  The  Pantomimes :  Their  Real  Art.  —  All  considered, 
the  pantomimes  represent  a  higher  degree  of  art.  Here  we 
have  only  one  actor,  who,  with  the  aid  of  a  chorus  and  a 
great  orchestra  of  lutes  and  lyres,  undertakes  to  tell  a  whole 
story  merely  by  his  dancing  and  rhythmic  motions.  A  really 
great  pantomimus  wins  and  deserves  the  favor  of  highly  cul- 
tivated aristocrats.  Pylades  and  Bathyllus  in  Augustus's 
day  had  the  fashionable  world  practically  at  their  feet,  and 
Paris  was  one  of  the  prime  intimates  of  Nero. 

The  greater  the  skill  the  fewer  the  words  that  need  to  be 
spoken ;  the  chanting  of  the  chorus  while  the  pantomimus  is 
changing  his  costumes  giving  hint  enough  of  the  characters  he 
is  portraying.  The  music,  florid  and  descriptive,  keeps  the 
audience  in  mood  for  the  dancing.  All  sorts  of  subjects  can 
thus  be  portrayed,  including  those  of  old  Greek  tragedies, 
the  actor  slipping  from  one  character  to  another  with  con- 
summate art :  —  now  he  is  Agamemnon,  now  Clytemnestra, 
now  Orestes.  He  can  take  male  or  female  parts  alternately, 
delineate  the  deepest  passions,  and  tell  a  whole  story  with 

382  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

what  his  admirers  call  his  "  speaking  hands/5  and  his  "  elo- 
quence of  dancing." 

To  see  a  great  pantomimus,  clad  perhaps  in  fleshings  of 
soft  light  red  Canunian  wool,  setting  off  perfectly  his  graceful 
figure,  dance  through  the  story  of  how  Achilles  disguised  as 
a  maiden  was  discovered  by  Ulysses  and  summoned  away 
to  the  Trojan  War,  is  a  joy  to  the  most  sophisticated  and 
intellectual.  The  dancer  can  take  many  parts  —  the  fair 
youth  concealed  in  the  palace  of  Lycomedes,  the  embassy  of 
Ulysses  and  Diomedes,  the  young  warrior  betraying  himself 
by  his  interest  in  the  helmet  and  cuirass  concealed  in  the 
mass  of  gifts  intended  for  women ;  —  the  whole  impersona- 
tion in  short  may  be  wonderful. 

Not  all  the  dances,  however,  are  so  innocent.  Many  of  the 
coarsest  stories  in  Grseco-Roman  mythology  are  acted  out 
on  the  stage,  and  the  grosser  they  are  often  the  louder  the 
applause  of  the  groundlings.  Nevertheless,  the  leading 
pantomimi  rightly  have  the  entree  to  lordly  houses,  enjoy 
great  incomes,  and  are  among  the  most  admired  personages 
in  Rome.  They  are  outdistanced,  however,  by  two  sets  of 
more  vulgar  rivals  —  the  charioteers  and  the  gladiators. 

324.  Extreme  Popularity  of  the  Circus.  —  When  a  series 
of  superior  contests  is  announced  for  the  Circus  all  Rome 
seems  to  become  racing  mad.  Words  fail  to  describe  the 
excitement,  the  tense  discussion  of  the  charioteers  and  their 
fours,  the  wave  of  betting  from  the  inner  Palatine  to  the  most 
sordid  insula,  and  then  the  exuberant  joy  or  immoderate 
grief  over  the  results. 

Superior  folk  try  in  vain  to  appear  disdainful  of  these 
contests.  Thus  Pliny  the  Younger  has  recorded  his  deep 
disgust  that  "  so  many  thousands  of  men  should  be  eager, 
like  a  pack  of  children,  to  see  horses  running  time  after  time 
with  the  charioteers  bending  over  their  cars."  "  The  multi- 
tude/' he  asserted,  "  were  not  interested  in  the  speed  of  the 

The  Public  Games  383 

teams  or  the  skill  of  the  drivers,  but  solely  in  the  '  racing 
colors.'  "  "  If  in  the  middle  of  the  race  (he  added)  the  colors 
were  changed,  the  enthusiasm  of  the  spectators  would  change 
with  them,  and  they  would  suddenly  desert  the  drivers  and 
horses  whom  they  now  recognized  afar  and  whose  names  they 
shouted  aloud.  Such  is  the  influence  and  authority  vested 
in  one  cheap  tunic !  " 

325.  Popular  Charioteers  (Aurigae) :  the  Great  Racing 
Factions.  —  It  is  all  very  well  to  write  this,  but  neither  Pliny 
nor  anybody  else  can  prevent  the  greatest  charioteers  from 
enjoying  temporary  incomes  surpassing  those  of  a  majority  of 
the  senators.  Many  of  these  lucky  aurigce  are  Moors,  dark- 
skinned,  hawk-eyed  rascals,  with  sharp  white  teeth  and 
sinews  of  iron;  but  a  considerable  sprinkling  of  them  are 
Spaniards,  as  was  that  Diocles,  whose  heirs  proudly  recorded 
on  his  tombstone  that  in  a  professional  career  of  twenty-four 
years  he  drove  in  4257  races,  and  conquered  1462  times,  with 
total  winnings  of  nearly  36  million  sesterces  (say  $1,440,000). 
He,  however,  was  not  the  most  fortunate  —  there  are  drivers 
on  record  who  boast  of  at  least  3500  victories,  though,  of 
course,  many  of  these  were  probably  won  in  the  provinces. 

No  sport  will  ever  be  more  thoroughly  standardized  and 
professionalized  than  that  of  the  chariot  races  in  Rome. 
When  a  magistrate  or  other  seeker  for  applause  decides  to 
give  a  series  of  contests  he  appeals  to  the  great  circus  syndi- 
cates ("factions")-"  There  were  originally  only  the  Red 
and  the  White;  then  the  Blue  and  the  Green  have  been 
added,  and  finally  the  Purple  and  the  Gold.  Each  faction 
maintains  huge  racing  stables  with  expert  drivers,  grooms, 
trainers,  and  veterinaries,  as  well  as  many  superb  "  fours  " 
of  horses. 

The  donor  of  the  games  has  to  arrange  with  these  organiza- 
tions how  many  contests  he  will  require,  each  "  faction  " 
entering  a  chariot  in  each  race.  Ten  races  a  day  is  the 

384  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

minimum ;  twenty-four  the  ordinary  maximum.  After  the 
contracts  have  been  signed  and  the  programs  posted  all 
over  the  city,  anxious  days  follow  for  all  concerned  to  insure 
an  honest  race.  The  wagering  is  always  so  general  and  so 
reckless,  that  infinite  precautions  are  needful  to  keep  the 
horses  from  being  drugged,  the  drivers  from  being  bribed 
to  throw  the  contests,  or  (if  they  prave  incorruptible)  the 
charioteers  from  being  poisoned  enough  to  make  them  lose. 
The  tricks  of  the  race-track  will  simply  endure  across  the  ages. 

326.  The    Circus   Maximus.  —  After   such   preparations 
and  excitement  no  wonder  that  people  complain  that  the 
Circus  Maximus  is  sometimes  too  small.     This  long  narrow 
depression  between  the  Palatine  and  Aventine  has  provided 
an  excellent  natural  race  course  since  the  days  of  the  Tarquins. 
At  first  the  slopes  of  the  hills  were  simply  lined  with  crude 
wooden  benches.    By  Julius  Caesar's  time  many  of  these 
benches  were  made  of  stone,  and  in  all  could  seat  at  least 
150,000  spectators.    After  a  great  fire  in  36  A.D.  Claudius 
presently  rebuilt  the  whole  structure  so  there  are  now  seats, 
partly  of  marble  and  partly  of  wood ;  and  Trajan  added  still 
more  tiers  and  more  marble  ornaments.     At  present  the  Cir- 
cus Maximus  covers  the  enormous  area  of  600  by  2000  feet, 
and  it  is  declared  that  there  is  at  least  standing  room,  if  not 
seats,  for  385,000  spectators  —  a  good  fraction  of  the  entire 
adult  population  of  Rome.1 

327.  The  Race-Track :   Procession  before  the  Races.  — 
Inasmuch  as  horse  races  are  not  peculiar  to  the  Imperial  Age 
let  a  brief  description  of  the  Great  Circus  and  its  contests 
suffice.    The  long  reaches  of  seats  are,  of  course,  portioned 
off  to  give  the  senators  and  equites  the  coigns  of  vantage. 
There  is  a  lofty  imperial  box  (pulmnar)  on  the  northern  side 

1  This  figure  seems  decidedly  too  high ;  but  the  present  ruinous  state 
of  the  Circus  Maximus  makes  it  very  difficult  to  determine  the  number 
more  exactly. 

The  Public  Games  385 

leading  directly  down  from  the  Palatine.  Here  the  Emperor 
and  his  suite  can  refresh  themselves,  and  from  a  wide  terrace 
command  a  marvelous  view  over  the  long  area  of  the  immense 

Down  the  center  of  this  area  runs  its  central  "  backbone  " 
(spina),  forming  a  long  low  wall  separating  the  outward  and 
inward  tracks,  adorned  with  an  unusually  elaborate  set  of 
statues,  columns  upholding  trophies,  and  even  with  one  or 

CIRCUS  MAXIMUS.    Restoration  by  Spandoni. 

two  tapering  obelisks  imported  from  Egypt.  In  a  kind  of 
open  pavilion  at  either  end  of  the  spina  can  be  seen  seven 
huge  marble  eggs  and  as  many  marble  dolphins.  One  of 
each  of  these  will  be  removed  as  each  lap  is  finished,  there 
being  seven  laps  normally  in  every  race. 

The  great  yellow  race-track  on  gala  occasions  can  be 
sprinkled  with  some  powerful  perfumes,  and  with  glittering 
particles  of  mica  or  with  red  lead.  When  at  last  the  multi- 
tudes have  gathered,  the  contestants  enter  in  solemn  proces- 
sion by  the  Triumphal  Gate  at  the  extreme  eastern  end  of  the 
Circus,  and  ahead  of  the  array  of  chariots  first  of  all  there 
goes  the  magistrate  giving  the  games,  himself  in  a  magnificent 

386  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

car  and  surrounded  by  a  brilliant  hedge  of  attendants  on 
horse  and  foot.  Very  likely  he  is  then  followed  by  certain 
priestly  colleges  in  pontifical  vestments,  by  statues  of  deities 
piously  borne  on  gilded  litters,  by  bands  of  trumpeters  and 
harpists  raising  their  clangor,  and  then  last,  but  not  least, 
come  the  racing  cars  themselves. 

328.  Beginning  a  Race  in  the  Circus.  —  The  master  of  the 
games  takes  his  seat  in  the  podium,  the  center  of  the  reserved 
benches  near  the  end  of  the  track.     The  chariots  disappear 
in  the  great  line  of  carceres,  "  prison  houses/'  the  carefully 
closed  stalls  at  the  western  end  of  the  Circus.     After  due 
waiting,  fidgeting,  chattering,  wagering  along  the  mountainous 
slopes  of  the  benches,  all  the  trumpets  blow  together.     Silence 
for  an  instant  grips  the  tens  of  thousands,  while  the  president 
rises  in  his  lodge  and  waves  out  a  broad  mappa,  a  white  cloth 
visible  far  up  and  down  the  entire  circus. 

Instantly  the  doors  of  the  carceres  fly  open ;  the  six  chariots l 
dash  forth  at  full  bound.  The  aurigse,  in  tight-fitting  tunics 
of  the  colors  of  their  factions,  stand  erect  in  the  light  cars,  the 
reins  looped  around  their  waists,  snapping  the  loose  ends  over 
the  flying  horses.  Instantly  they  have  dashed  to  the  three 
tall  pillars  of  the  nearer  goal  (meta),  and  only  by  miraculous 
chance  is  a  disastrous  collision  avoided  at  the  outset.  Then 
the  whole  circus  rises  and  shouts  together.  The  familiar 
figure  of  Scorpus  the  Moor,  a  brown  giant  in  the  tunic  of  the 
Greens,  shoots  ahead.  His  magnificent  quadriga  of  bays 
have  taken  the  wall  at  one  leap.  The  flying  dust  cloud,  as 
the  other  five  cars  dash  after  him,  almost  dims  the  sight  of  the 
race.  The  noise  from  the  benches  is  deafening.  The  backers 
of  the  trailing  cars  are  in  an  agony. 

329.  Perils  of  the  Races ;    Proclaiming  the  Victors.  — 

Scorpus's  chariot  whirls  around  the  lower  goal  like  lightning 

1  As  many  as  ten  cars  could  contend  at  once  in  the  greatest  games. 

The  Public  Games  387 

and  comes  tearing  back  on  the  opposite  track,  while  each  one 
of  the  balls  and  dolphins  is  removed  to  indicate  the  progress 
of  the  race.  The  other  cars  press  hard ;  and  as  the  teams 
gather  speed  it  is  a  marvel  how  the  drivers  keep  their  stand 
with  the  cars  leaping  hither  and  thither  under  them,  their 
wheels  barely  touching  the  flying  track.1 

Five  times  around  they  go,  with  Scorpus  gallantly  main- 
taining his  lead.  Then  at  the  sixth  turn  the  "  Gold  "  driver 
reins  too  sharply.  His  chariot  crashes  over  in  a  complete 
somersault,  but,  by  a  desperate  maneuver  just  as  he  is 
thrown,  he  whips  out  the  knife  held  ready  in  his  belt  and 
cuts  the  reins  about  his  waist.  By  a  miracle  he  is  flung  out 
sprawling  upon  the  yielding  sands,  yet  escapes  death  under 
the  car  racing  just  behind.  The  spectators,  therefore,  escape 
the  brutal  and  familiar  sight  of  an  auriga  trampled  or  crushed 
to  death  by  the  rushing  chariots  and  horses.  Meantime 
Scorpus  losing  not  an  instant  has  hurried  again  past  the  upper 
goal ;  a  frantic  attempt  by  Cresconius,  the  "  Red  "  driver 
just  behind,  fails  to  head  his  steeds,  and  amid  a  deafening 
tumult  he  sweeps  past  the  president  of  the  games  to  victory. 

The  official  jubilatores  immediately  stride  out  into  the 
track  crying  with  loud  voice  the  name  of  the  winner,  and  the 
news  is  soon  flying  all  over  the  city.  Nay,  some  of  the  out- 
lying towns  are  speedily  informed  of  the  general  results,  for 
a  certain  sports-loving  senator  has  come  with  a  cage  of  hom- 
ing pigeons,  each  colored  to  match  one  of  the  factions.  The 
instant  Scorpus  is  acclaimed,  green  pigeons  are  released  to 
tell  all  the  gamblers  in  Ostia  and  Praeneste  that  the  "  Green  " 
cars  have  won  the  first  round. 

1  The  description  of  the  Roman-style  chariot  race  in  Lew  Wallace's 
famous  novel  "Ben  Hur "  is  technically  as  well  as  rhetorically  admirable 
and  accurate.  However,  no  high-rank  Roman,  such  as  Messala  is  repre- 
sented to  have  been,  would  have  driven  a  quadriga  in  the  public  circus. 
The  drivers  were  nearly  always  low-born  men  of  provincial  if  not  of  servile 

The  Public  Games  389 

After  the  noise  has  subsided,  the  trumpets  blow  again, 
another  set  of  chariots  is  ready  and  the  whole  excitement  is 
repeated.  So  the  contests  keep  up  through  the  day.  If  there 
is  a  long  interval  between  the  races,  rope-dancers,  acrobats, 
and  trick-riders  are  ready  to  amuse  the  populace.  Probably 
at  the  end  there  will  be  the  crowning  and  decisive  race  be- 
tween the  winners  of  the  preceding  contests.  If  Scorpus  can 
triumph  in  this  also,  he  will  carouse  with  his  companions, 
doubtless  more  praised  and  feted  for  one  glad  night  than 
even  the  Emperor. 

330.  Gladiatorial  Contests  Even  More  Popular  than  the 
Circus.  —  Yet  Scorpus  with  all  his  adulation  and  ephemeral 
wealth  turns  green  with  jealousy  toward  a  rival  for  fame  — 
the  victorious  gladiator  in  the  last  combats  in  tlie  Flavian. 
The  sports  of  the  arena  perhaps  excite  greater  favor  with  the 
mob,  betting  more  reckless,  passions  more  frantic  than  do 
even  the  contests  of  the  Circus. 

The  gladiatorial  games  are  peculiar  to  Roman  civilization ; 
nothing  exactly  like  them  will  follow  in  later  ages.1  They 
illustrate  completely  the  pitiless  spirit  and  carelessness  of  hu- 
man life  lurking  behind  the  pomp,  glitter,  and  cultural  pre- 
tensions of  the  great  imperial  age.  True  it  is  that  persons  of 
intellectual  tastes  sometimes  affect  greater  contempt  for 
these  contests  than  they  do  for  the  Circus.  "  No  doubt  the 
gladiators,"  such  men  as  Seneca  write  to  one  another,  "  are 
criminals  deserving  their  fate,  but  what  have  you  done  to 
deserve  being  compelled  to  witness  their  last  agonies?" 
No  matter ;  nothing  will  gain  "  popularity  "  for  a  ruler  or 
for  a  magnate  sooner  than  announcing  a  fight  in  the  arena. 

The  very  best  Emperors  arrange  elaborate  series  of  combats 
—  perhaps  with  a  sigh  in  their  hearts,  as  colossal  and  bloody 
bribes  which  must  be  thrown  constantly  to  the  mob ;  and 

1  The  Spanish  bull  fights  at  their  very  worst  were  a  relatively  harmless 

390  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

Imperator,  great  officials,  senators,  priests,  nay,  the  Vestal 
Virgins  themselves,  will  all  be  on  hand  in  the  reserved  front 
benches.  There  is  even  given  out  a  philosophical  justifica- 
tion for  the  butcheries,  namely,  that  the  spectators  become 
hardened  to  the  sight  of  death  and  are,  therefore,  the  more 
courageous  when  their  own  hour  comes.  The  reigning  Ha- 
drian considers  the  arena  combats  to  be  useful  also  for  keeping 
up  the  military  spirit ;  in  short  the  whole  Latin  half  of  the 
Empire  delights  in  them,  although  they  never  have  become 
very  popular  in  the  Greek  portion.1 

331.  Gladiator  Figttts  at  Funerals.  —  Gladiatorial  fights 
claim  an  Etruscan  origin,  and  in  Rome  they  were  first  exhib- 
ited at  funerals  of  the  great,  possibly  with  the  idea  that  the 
spirits  of  the  slain  would  serve  the  dead  lord  in  the  under- 
world.    It  is  still  very  fashionable  to  give  a  sizable  gladiator 
fight  as  the  aftermath  of  any  pretentious  funeral,  but  this  is 
perhaps  more  common  in  the  provincial  towns  than  in  Rome, 
where  the  government  likes  to  control  such  martial  spectacles. 

We  actually  hear  of  the  populace  of  one  small  city  that 
would  not  let  the  funeral  procession  of  a  distinguished  lady 
proceed  through  the  gates  until  her  husband  had  promised 
them  some  public  combats.  Pliny  the  Younger's  friend 
Maximus  presented  a  gladiator  fight  to  the  citizens  of  Verona 
"  in  honor  of  his  most  estimable  wife,"  a  native  of  the  place, 
but  the  exhibition  was  not  quite  a  success  because  "  on  ac- 
count of  bad  weather  the  numerous  African  panthers  he  had 
bought  failed  to  arrive  on  the  expected  day." 

332.  Gladiator  "  Schools  "  (Ludf) :  Inmates  Usually  Crim- 
inals. —  There  are  four  great  imperial  "  schools  "  (ludf)  of 
gladiators  in  Rome  maintained  as  public  institutions.     These 

1  The-  gladiatorial  games  were  never  introduced  in  Athens.  Once  when, 
in  the  local  council,  it  was  proposed  to  imitate  Rome  and  build  an  amphi- 
theater, a  prominent  philosopher  quashed  the  whole  project  by  moving 
"firat  to  abolish  the  altar  of  Pity.1' 

The  Public  Games  391 

can  be  drawn  upon  for  the  regular  public  games ;  but  there 
are  plenty  of  private  "  schools  "  maintained  by  speculators 
who  can  often  supply  quite  as  good  fighters. 

If,  as  a  magistrate,  or  as  a  bereaved  kinsman  or  widower, 
you  decide  to  give  some  combats,  and  if  your  purse  is  full, 
the  rest  is  easy.  You  merely  contract  with  the  lanista 
(keeper  and  trainer  of  a  school)  for  so  many  contests  upon 
specified  terms  ;  although,  in  really  pretentious  affairs,  gladi- 
ators from  several  rival  schools  can  be  pitted  together  — 
this  adds  to  the  excitement.  When  the  fight  is  over  the  free 
gladiators  are  paid  off,  the  slave  fighters  are  returned  to  their 
owners  and  indemnification  is  given  the  owners  of  the  slain 
—  all  on  set  business  terms.  There  is  great  expense  in  train- 
ing good  gladiators  and  slain  champions  cannot  fight  again ; 
and  this  solid  fact  often  prevents  combats  from  being  too 
destructive,  while  wounded  survivors  may  be  carefully  nursed 
just  as  a  sick  race  horse  may  be  cared  for. 

Anybody  will  tell  us  that  no  pity  need  be  wasted  on  gladia- 
tors. Many  a  low-born  criminal  is  dragged  from  the  prse- 
f ect's  court  with  a  relieved  grin  on  his  felonious  countenance ; 
the  magistrate  has  not  ordered  "  To  the  cross  with  him ! " 
but  merely  "  Train  him  for  the  amphitheater/'  Many  an 
incorrigible  slave  has  been  sold  to  a  lanista  by  his  master 
instead  of  being  promptly  whipped  to  death. 

Not  a  few  unfortunate  prisoners  of  war  and  kidnapped 
persons,  however,  if  they  have  stout  physiques,  find  their 
way  also  to  the  lanistse  instead  of  to  the  ordinary  slave  mar- 
kets, and  brutal  masters  will  sometimes  sell  perfectly  innocent 
slaves  if  the  latter  appear  likely  to  make  good  swordsmen. 
On  the  other  hand  many  plebeians  of  the  baser  sort  are  caught 
by  the  glitter  and  glory  of  the  arena,  and  submit  voluntarily 
to  the  discipline  of  the  "  schools/'  while  under  the  tyrannous 
emperors  even  men  claiming  noble  rank  have  fought  upon  the 
sands  to  truckle  to  the  whims  of  an  evil  Caesar. 

392  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

333.  Severe  Training  of  Gladiators;  Their  Ephemeral 
Glory.  —  The  lanistse's  discipline  is  terribly  severe,  as  is 
perhaps  needful  considering  the  wretches  placed  under  it. 
The  gladiators  are  kept  in  prison-like  barracks.  Nothing  is 
omitted  to  brutalize  them  and  to  make  their  whole  life  center 
around  mere  skill  with  their  weapons.  They  are  fed  upon 
great  quantities  of  meat.  Cruel  floggings  follow  the  least 
breach  of  discipline,  and  in  every  ludus  is  a  lock-up,  with  a 
long  line  of  stocks  and  shackles,  which  never  wants  its  many 

On  the  other  hand  many  a  stupid  wretch  is  made  to  forget 
the  doom  probably  awaiting  him  in  the  next  combats,  by 
dreaming  of  the  glories  promised  a  truly  successful  gladiator. 
If  he  can  emerge  victorious  from  a  series  of  combats,  he  is 
more  talked  of  than  even  the  most  daring  charioteer ;  great 
nobles  will  visit  his  quarters  to  watch  his  training  and  feel  of 
his  muscles ;  his  owners  will  do  everything  to  pamper  such  a 
valuable  piece  of  property ;  innumerable  women,  even  among 
the  silken-robed  clarissimce,  will  dote  upon  him ;  and  perhaps 
he  can  actually  elope  with  a  senator's  wife. 

Not  merely  the  youths  but  all  the  girls  in  Rome  will  sing 
the  champion's  praises  and  dream  of  his  valor.  He  will  be 
named  in  countless  wall-scribblings  as  "  The  Maiden's  Sigh," 
"  The  Glory  of  the  Girls,"  "  The  Lord  of  the  Lasses/'  or 
"  The  Doctor  (medicus)  of  the  Little  Darlings."1  If  he  has 
lost  an  ear,  if  his  face  is  one  mass  of  disfiguring  scars,  the 
women  run  after  him  all  the  more.  "  Never  mind  that," 
scolds  Juvenal,  "  he  is  a  gladiator." 

The  end  of  this  glory  ordinarily  comes  speedily  and  tragi- 
cally, but  sometimes  the  very  fortunate  and  skilful  fighter 
will  win  such  favor  that,  at  the  popular  demand,  the  giver  of 
the  games  will  present  him  with  a  wooden  sword  —  the  token 

1  Actual  epithets  bestowed  on  gladiators  in  the  Pompeiian  wall  inscrip- 

The  Public  Games  393 

of  honorable  discharge.  If  he  is  not  a  slave-criminal,  he  can 
now  quit  the  Indus  with  plenty  of  money  and  a  merry  life  be- 
fore him,  but  the  taint  of  his  "  profession  "  will  always  stick  to 
him.  He  can  never  become  a  Roman  citizen,  much  less  can 
he  be  enrolled  as  an  eques  whatever  the  extent  of  his  wealth. 

334.  Normal  Arrangements  for  an  Arena  Contest. — Strictly 
speaking  the  amphitheater  is  used  for  two  kinds  of  entertain- 
ments—  wild  beast  hunts  (venationes)  and  direct  combats 
between  men.  Each  form  is  extremely  popular,  although 
human  gore  appears  a  little  cheap  and  ordinary  compared 
with  that  of  an  expensive  tiger,  panther,  or  lion.  It  always 
makes  a  hit  with  the  crowd  to  turn,  for  example,  a  tigress  and 
a  fierce  bull-elephant  loose  on  the  sands  and  watch  the  two 
brutes  rend  one  another. 

It  is  true  nevertheless  that  nothing  can  really  take  the  place 
of  a  sustained  combat  between  two  thoroughly  trained  pupils 
of  the  "  schools."  Ordinarily  the  management  will  have  the 
hunts  in  the  morning  at  the  amphitheater  and  the  human 
contests  in  the  afternoon.  That  will  send  the  myriads  away 
happily  satiated  after  a  day  spent  amid  the  perpetual  sniff  of 

No  scene  visited  in  our  prolonged  "  day  "  in  Rome  can 
be  more  repellent  to  non-Roman  tastes  than  that  of  the 
amphitheater,  but  to  complete  the  picture  it  must  not  be 
omitted,  although  horrid  deeds  will  be  dismissed  with  few 
words  and  still  less  of  moralizing.  Publius  Calvus's  friend, 
Decimus  Cluentius,  this  year  is  Prsetor.  He  is  a  wealthy 
senator  and  has  been  saving  money  carefully  for  "  his 
games."  He  has  already  made  a  good  public  impression 
by  his  program  of  races  in  the  Circus ;  now  he  will  "  add 
to  the  luster  of  his  fame  "  by  a  day  of  contests  in  the  Flavian. 
Already  the  notice  writers  have  distributed  the  list  of  the 
gladiators  that  he  has  engaged,  in  every  eating-house  and 
wine-room  in  the  city. 

394  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

The  impression  thus  made  has  been  excellent :  "  Cluentius 
is  living  up  to  his  riches.  Many  of  his  gladiators  are  freemen 

—  the  finest  blades,  no  running  away,  the  kind  of  fellows  that 
will  stand  right  up  and  be  butchered  in  mid-arena.    Besides, 
he's  been  lucky  enough  to  get  from  the  prsef ect  a  farm  steward 
who  was  caught  insulting  his  master's  wife  —  a  good  dinner 
for  the  lions.     These  rights  won't  be  as  when  that  miserly 
Norbanus  exhibited  —  his  gladiators  were  such  a  cowardly, 
feeble  lot  they'd  have  fallen  flat  if  you  breathed  on  'em."  l 

335.  The   Flavian  Amphitheater  (Later  "  Colosseum  "). 

—  Such  an  exhibition  can  only  be  held  in  the  Flavian  Amphi- 
theater, the  vast  structure  known  to  later  ages  as  the  "  Colos- 
seum."    In  Republican  days  gladiator  fights  were  held  in 
the  open  Forum  or  in  the  Circus,  but  these  were  ill-adapted 
for  the  purpose.     To  see  tjie  fine  points  of  the  combats  the 
audience  must  be  concentrated  around  the  contestants  as 
closely  as  possible;    hence  the  "amphitheater"  —  an  im- 
mense oval  of  seats  looking  down  upon  a  central  arena. 

The  building  of  such  a  quantity  of  seats  out  of  permanent 
materials  is  very  expensive  and  wooden  structures  were 
largely  used  until  about  70  A.D.,  when  Vespasian  and  Titus 
began  their  vast  "Flavian"  (dedicated  in  80  A.D.  by  an 
enormous  beast  hunt),  now  among  the  chief  wonders  of  Rome. 
Common  report  has  it  that  thousands  of  Titus's  Jewish  cap- 
tives had  to  toil  first  on  the  masonry  and  then  for  the  most 
part  to  lose  their  lives  fighting  one  another  in  the  opening 

To  avoid  prolixity  any  description  of  this  vast  structure 
must  be  very  brief:  it  stands  an  oval  cylinder,  its  outer 
major  diameter  620  feet ;  and  the  greatest  diameter  of  its 
inner  arena  287.  Its  innumerable  blocks  of  travertin  are 
bound  together  by  metal  clamps ;  the  exterior  is  faced  with 

1  Taken  from  the  "Gladiator  Gossip"  at  Trimalchio's  Dinner  in 
Petronius's  "  Satyricon.1 ' 

The  Public  Games 


marble  and  adorned  with  hundreds  more  of  those  statues 
which  populate  Rome.  The  structure  rises  157  feet  in  four 
stories.  The  lower  three  of  these  tiers  are  composed  each  of 
a  series  of  eighty  arches  backed  by  piers.  In  the  first  story 
the  flanking  columns  are  Doric,  the  second  Ionic,  the  third 
Corinthian.  The  fourth  story  has  no  arches  but  merely 

FLAVIAN  AMPHITHEATER  (COLOSSEUM):  exterior,  present  state. 

windows  and  pilasters  of  the  "  composite  "  order.  Between 
these  upper  pilasters  project  stone  brackets  which  hold 
lofty  wooden  masts  for  the  great  awnings  that  stretch  over  the 
arena.  These  masts  and  awnings  (red,  blue,  and  yellow) 
when  spread  out  under  a  brilliant  sky,  make  the  Flavian  look 
somewhat  like  an  enormous  galley  under  a  cloud  of  sail  — 
the  effect,  of  course,  being  heightened  by  the  sheen  of  the 
marbles  of  the  exterior  and  the  garish  paint  and  gilding  cover- 
ing the  statues. 

396  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

336.  Exterior  and  Ticket  Entrances  to  the  Flavian  Amphi- 
theater. —  Outside  of  the  Amphitheater  is  a  wide  circular 
area  whereon  converge  many  thoroughfares.      This  open 
space  is  scattered  with  huckster's  booths  and  with  small 
ticket  stands  much  like  those  around  many  amusement  places 
in  another  age.1    Here  one  can  place  wagers,  purchase  pro- 
grams for  the  day,  obtain  food  to  consume  between  the 
events,  and  very  probably  buy  or  hire  cushions  in  case  the 
stone  benches  prove  too  hard. 

Also  on  the  outside  and  close  to  the  foot  of  the  main  struc- 
ture runs  a  high  wooden  palisade.  This  is  to  aid  in  control- 
ling the  crowds.  You  go  in  at  one  or  two  entrances,  showing 
your  tickets,  then  circle  the  masonry  until  you  reach  one  of  the 
staircases,  located  under  every  fourth  arch,  and  next  you  can 
promptly  mount  to  your  reserved  seat  in  one  of  the  seventy- 
six  sub-sections  (cunei). 

337.  Interior  Arrangements  of  the  Flavian.  —  Once  inside, 
the  admirable  arrangements  of  the  structure  impress  the 
visitor  no  less  than  its  enormous  mass.     Everything  con- 
verges upon  the  central  arena ;  even  from  the  topmost  seats 
one  can  see  all  the  details  of  the  contests  below.     The  seats 
are  divided  into  three  great  terraces,  so  easily  accessible  by 
the  stairways  and  corridors  that  the  fifty  thousand  specta- 
tors can  pass  in  and  out  with  the  minimum  of  confusion. 
The  lowest  tiers,  made  of  marble  and  comfortably  cushioned, 
are  reserved  here  as  elsewhere  for  the  senators ;  and  for  the 
editor  (the  giver  of  the  contests),  his  fellow  magistrates,  the 
chief  priests,  and  the  Vestal  Virgins,  there  are  seats  of  pecul- 
iar honor  directly  upon  the  podium,  the  crest  of  the  twelve- 
foot  wall  girding  the  arena ;  —  seats  which  are  protected  alike 
from  chance  missiles  and  from  the  leap  of  desperate  beasts  by 
a  heavy  ^trellis-work  of  gilded  metal. 

1  As  we  know  from  paintings  showing  the  surroundings  of  the  Amphi- 
theater at  PompeiL 

The  Public  Games  397 

Above  this  podium  like  the  billows  of  a  frozen  ocean  rise 
the  enormous  tiers  of  masonry  seats;  first  those  for  the 
equites,  then  the  great  mass  for  the  paying  spectators,  then 
the  space  crowded  with  wooden  benches  for  the  slaves  and 
least  select  plebeians.  An  open  gallery  runs  around  the 
entire  summit  of  the  benches  and  here  alone,  by  a  restriction 
doubtless  often  lamented,  women  are  allowed  to  watch  the 
contests  from  afar,  unless  they  are  Vestal  Virgins  or  ladies  of 
the  Imperial  family,  with  the  special  privilege  of  the  podium. 

All  the  arches,  stairways,  sections,  and  tiers  are  numbered. 
If  you  have  a  ticket,  it  may  read  "  VI th  section  (cuneus), 
lowest  row,  seat  No.  18,"  marked  upon  a  round  or  flat  piece 
of  bone.  The  attendants  are  lynx-eyed  for  impostors,  but 
legitimate  visitors  are  quickly  seated.  A  detachment  of 
sailors  from  the  fleet  of  Misenum  shifts  the  enormous  awnings 
so  that  the  thousands  1  can  sit  comfortably  in  the  shade  while 
a  full  blaze  of  sunlight  falls  on  the  arena. 

By  the  middle  of  the  morning  the  multitudes  are  in  place ; 
Cluentius  the  Prsetor,  with  full  official  magnificence,  is  in  the 
central  box  of  the  podium ;  and  strong  detachments  of  Prae- 
torians have  been  quietly  distributed  in  certain  half -concealed 
guard  inclosures  near  the  lower  railing  —  for  gladiators  have 
been  known  to  mutiny  and  desperate  lions  can  leap  very  high. 

338.  Procession  of  Gladiators.  —  Presently  now  trumpets 
and  cymbals  announce  the  procession  which  files  through  one 
of  the  four  gates  leading  directly  into  the  arena.  The  gladia- 
tors, some  forty  in  number,  march  two  and  two,  nearly  naked 
save  for  their  glistening  armor;  knitted  foreheads,  white 
teeth,  wolfish  scowls,  magnificent  physiques  are  displayed  by 
all  of  them.  From  far  up  the  applauding  benches  they  can 

1  Ordinarily  it  is  stated  that  there  was  room  for  about  87,000  persons  in 
the  Flavian  Amphitheater.  There  were  seats,  however,  for  only  some 
50,000,  although  possibly  20,000  more  could  find  standing  room  in  the 
great  upper  sections. 

398  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

be  recognized,  and  many  favorite  retiarii  and  Thraces  are 
met  with  a  storm  of  cheering. 

The  company  marches  solemnly  down  the  arena  led  by  an 
enormous  lanista,  one  of  their  trainers,  the  scarred  hero  of  all 
the  youth  of  Rome.  Before  Cluentius  on  the  podium  they 
halt  and  flourish  their  weapons  defiantly.  Everybody 
knows  that  they  have  just  taken  their  fearful  oath  "  to  be 
bound,  to  be  burned,  to  be  scourged,  to  be  slain,  and  to 
endure  all  else  required  of  them  as  proper  gladiators,  giving 
up  alike  their  souls  and  their  bodies."  * 

339.  Throwing  a  Criminal  to  the  Beasts.  The  Animal 
Hunt.  —  However,  the  contests  do  not  begin  immediately ; 
there  is  a  preliminary  spectacle  in  store.  The  Praetor's 
friend,  the  City  Prsefect,  most  luckily  has  handed  over  to 
him  a  vicious  freedman  caught  maltreating  his  patron's 
lady.  The  wretch,  of  course,  deserves  death :  —  how  proper, 
therefore,  that  he  can  be  made  to  amuse  more  honest  folk  by 
his  very  exit !  Into  the  middle  of  the  arena  they  lead  him, 
a  pitiful  gibbering  object,  half-dead  already  with  fright. 
The  guards  strike  off  his  fetters,  thrust  a  cheap  sword  into  his 
hands,  and  themselves  hastily  retire  into  one  of  the  numerous 
caged  chambers  lining  the  arena.  A  tense  stillness  for  an 
instant  holds  the  Flavian. 

Suddenly  the  rattle  of  chains  is  heard.  In  the  very  center 
of  the  sands  (part  of  which  are  over  wooden  substructures) 
the  arena  opens ;  a  cage  appears  lifted  by  pulleys,  and  then  is 
opened  by  some  mechanism.  Forth  bounds  a  tawny  lion, 
lashing  his  tail  and  growling  with  hunger  and  rage.  The 
unskilled  victim  has  been  given  a  sword  with  the  vain  prom- 
ise that  if  he  can  actually  kill  the  lion  his  own  life  will  be 
spared.  His  chances  are  infinitesimal,  but  a  few  desperadoes 
have  thus  actually  saved  themselves. 

1  The  regular  gladiatorial  oath. 

The  Public  Games  899 

Will  the  prisoner  fight?  To  the  infinite  disgust  of  the 
thousands  he  collapses  upon  the  sands  in  sheer  terror  before 
the  lion  can  so  much  as  strike  him.  The  beast  finishes  his 
life  almost  instantly.  The  multitude  hoot  and  curse  —  they 
have  been  cheated  of  their  passionate  desire  to  see  a  human 
victim  struggling  in  desperate  combat  with  the  great  beast. 
Fortunately,  they  remind  themselves,  this  is  only  the  begin- 
ning of  the  performance. 

If  one  need  not  moralize,  one  need  not  linger.  After  the 
sacrifice  of  the  criminal  there  are  more  beasts  turned  loose  in 
the  arena.  Of  course,  no  Praetor  can  be  expected  to  show  the 
hundreds  of  animals  which  an  Emperor  will  exhibit  in  his 
greater  games,  but  Cluentius  has  done  the  thing  very  respect- 
ably. He  has  in  all  ten  bears,  eighteen  panthers,  five  lions, 
and  six  tigers. 

First  the  animals  are  goaded  on  to  fight  one  with  another. 
A  bear  is  torn  to  death  by  a  lion,  but  kills  the  lion  in  a  last 
mortal  hug.  Then  the  trumpet  sounds  —  some  of  the 
gladiators  rush  into  the  arena.  The  arena  is  now  covered 
with  frightened,  snarling,  reckless  beasts.  Even  with  keeu 
weapons  and  skill,  it  is  desperate  work  to  slay  them.  One 
fine  young  German  slips  as  a  tiger  bounds  on  him.  His  life 
is  crushed  out  at  the  very  foot  of  the  editor's  stand.  One 
panther,  driven  frantic,  with  a  terrific  leap  almost  clears  the 
trellis  directly  before  a  Vestal  Virgin;  there  is  a  general 
scream  and  recoil  from  the  podium  as  the  luckless  beast  drops 
back  upon  the  spear  of  a  hunter. 

340.  Interval  in  the  Contests:  Scattering  of  Lottery 
Tickets.  —  At  last  the  venatio  is  over.  All  the  beasts  have 
been  killed  with  reasonable  skill,  and  barring  only  the  Ger- 
man, with  no  accidents.  It  is  now  noon  and  a  comfortable 
intermission  follows.  Food  has  been  brought  by  many,  or  is 
passed  about  by  hawkers.  Cluentius,  with  great  condescen- 
sion, remains  in  the  editor's  seat,  and  dines  in  public  so  that 


A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

everybody  present  can  go  home  boasting  merrily,  "  We  have 
been  to  prandium  with  the  Prsetor !  "  1 

After  hunger  has  been  appeased  the  spectators  begin  to 
grow  restive.  It  is  the  immemorial  privilege  of  the  crowds 
to  shout  out  whatever  they  wish  in  the  Circus  or  Amphithea- 
ter. An  unpopular  Commissioner  of  the  Grain  Supply  is 
seen  rising  in  the  podium ;  instantly  the  great  awning  quakes 
with  the  hootings.  There  is  even  a  volley  of  date  and  olive 
stones;  when,  luckily  for  the  Commissioner,  the  Prsetor 


orders  the  attendants  to  begin  scattering  lottery  tickets  along 
the  benches. 

Instantly  all  else  is  forgotten ;  dignified  men  scramble  over 
one  another.  In  the  free  benches  there  are  several  genuine 
fights  and  many  a  torn  toga  or  lacerna.  The  winning  tickets 
to-morrow  will  draw  jars  of  wine,  packages  of  edibles,  or  even 
quite  a  few  denarii  in  cash ;  but  if  the  editor  had  been  the 
Emperor  the  prizes  could  well  have  been  fine  jewelry,  pictures, 

1  Augustus  once  protested  against  the  custom  of  eating  in  the  amphi- 
theater as  being  undignified  and  said  he  would  prefer  to  go  away  and 
return.  "That  is  all  right  for  you,1'  answered  his  hearer,  "but  your  seat 
is  sure  to  be  kept  for  you !" 

The  Public  Games  401 

beasts  of  burden,  tidy  sums  of  money,  or  even  —  as  the  grand 
prize  —  a  small  villa. 

This  distribution  silences  all  the  discordant  howlings ;  and 
the  people  are  further  amused  by  a  kind  of  theatrical  pageant, 
some  popular  pantomimes  giving  the  Judgment  of  Paris  in  a 
clever  and  not  inelegant  manner,  without  scenery  in  the 
broad  arena.  After  that  two  ostriches  are  unloosed  and  the 
crowd  is  put  in  an  excellent  humor  while  four  Moorish  riders 
on  shining  desert  steeds  chase  down  the  speeding,  doubling 
birds  and  finally  lasso  them.  All  is  at  last  ready  for  the 
real  business  of  the  day  —  the  gladiators. 

341.  Beginning  the  Regular  Gladiatorial  Combats.  — 
The  hunters  of  the  beasts,  duly  reenforced  by  many  others, 
reenter  the  arena  again  in  grim  procession.  Approaching 
the  editor's  seat  on  the  podium  they  can  be  seen  passing  up 
their  weapons  for  Cluentius,  to  let  him  satisfy  himself  that 
every  edge  is  sharpened  beyond  the  possibility  of  shamming. 
He  hands  back  each  spear  or  sword  with  a  nod,  then  the  long 
file  straightens  and  every  combatant  lifts  his  right  arm : 
"  Awy  prcetor!  "  sounds  the  deep  chant,  "  morituri  te  salute- 
mm!"  "  Ave!"  answers  Cluentius  gesturing  haughtily. 
"  Low-browed  scoundrels,"  mutters  Calvus  to  a  fellow  sen- 
ator ;  "  Most  of  them  are  lucky  to  end  up  this  way  and  to 
escape  the  cross.  —  Ah !  they  begin." 

First,  however,  to  get  well  limbered,  wooden  swords  are 
handed  about,  and  the  troop  fence  with  one  another  skilfully 
yet  harmlessly;  but  the  people  are  waxing  impatient  — 
"  Steel !  Steel !  "  rings  the  shout  from  the  whole  amphi- 
theater, and  the  dense  array  of  women  in  the  upper  gallery 
is  calling  it  as  fiercely  as  the  men  on  the  ocean  of  benches. 
A  terrific  blast  of  trumpets  sounds  from  mid-arena,  and  a 
gigantic  lanista  acting  as  a  kind  of  umpire  motions  with  his 
spear.  Soon  every  heart  in  the  myriads  is  thrilled  by  the 
clash  of  weapons. 


A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

Cluentius  (an  unoriginal  though  free-spending  magistrate) 
has  arranged  a  very  conventional  series  of  combats.  First 
two  Britons  dash  about  in  chariots  pelting  each  other  with 
javelins.  Their  armor  turns  the  darts  for  long,  then  one  of 
the  horses  is  wounded  and  while  his  driver  is  struggling  to 
control  him  another  missile  strikes  through  a  joint  in  the 
warrior's  armor.  He  totters  in  the  car  while  all  the  amphi- 


theater  rises  and  yells  together  "  Habetl  "  "  He's  got  it !  " 
—  and  then  as  the  poor  wight  tumbles  back  into  the  sands, 
"  Peractum  est!  "  "  He's  done  for !  " 

Immediately  there  appears  a  grotesque  figure,  arrayed  as 
Charon,  the  dead  man's  ferryman.  He  bears  a  hammer 
wherewith  he  strikes  the  body  of  the  victim  to  see  if  he  is 
counterfeiting  death.  The  fallen  chariot  warrior  stirs  not  — 
and  "  Charon  "  with  a  long  hook  drags  away  the  corpse 
into  one  of  the  dens  under  the  podium.  The  benches  are 
now  leaping,  gesticulating,  and  yelling  —  the  noise  is  inde- 

The  Public  Games 


scribable,  and  Cluentius's  friends  hasten  to  tell  him  that  the 
combats  have  started  admirably. 

342.  Mounted  Combats:  the  Signals  for  Ruthlessness 
and  Mercy,  —  The  surviving  charioteer  disappears  amid 
plaudits.  In  his  place  ride  out  four  horsemen;  and  two 
mounted  duels  can  thus  take  place  at  either  side  of  the  arena. 

DEFEATED   GLADIATOR  APPEALING  FOR  MERCY:  spectators,  with  Vestal 
Virgins  in  front  seats,  turning  "  thumbs  down." 

One  pair  contend  evenly  and  stoutly,  but  the  other  contest 
soon  ends  —  the  less  skilful  rider  is  dashed  from  his  seat 
by  his  opponent's  sword,  and  is  so  hurt  he  can  barely  lift 
himself  upon  the  sands.  The  victor  leaps  down  and  stands 
over  him  waving  his  reddened  blade,  while  his  disarmed  victim 
in  sheer  helplessness  raises  the  right  hand,  the  fist  clinched 
except  for  one  upraised  finger  —  the  demand  for  "  Mercy  1 " 
The  conqueror  obsequiously  looks  toward  his  employer 
Cluentius  upon  the  podium,  and  the  Prater,  bound  to  be 

404  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

gracious  to  the  populace,  motions  somewhat  inquiringly 
toward  the  spectators  —  let  them  decide  !  If  the  defeated 
gladiator  had  fought  more  gamely  and  had  striven  to  rise 
and  renew  the  fight,  possibly  enough  white  handkerchiefs  — 
the  token  of  mercy  —  would  have  been  waved  to  warrant 
the  editor  in  flourishing  his  own  also  ;  —  but  the  fellow  had 
collapsed  too  easily  and  the  mood  of  the  crowd  demanded 
blood.  "Ocdde!  Occide!"  "Kill  I  Kill  I"  is  the  yell; 
and  thousands  of  thumbs  are  ruthlessly  pointed  downward. 
Cluentius's  own  thumb  is  pointed  down  likewise.  The  victor 
raises  his  weapon  and  without  scruple  plunges  it  in  the  breast 
of  the  vanquished,  who  sustains  the  honor  of  his  profession  by 
receiving  the  mortal  blow  without  flinching. 

Again  the  Charon  enters  with  his  hook  and  clears  the  arena. 
In  the  interval  the  other  mounted  duelists,  cool  and  expe- 
rienced warriors,  have  partly  suspended  their  combat  and 
now  they  profit  through  their  comrade's  death  by  the  um- 
piring lanista's  declaration  of  a  draw.  The  people  are  sated 
for  an  instant  and  Cluentius  nods  approval  as  the  two  ride 
out ;  he  is  inwardly  glad  to  spare  them,  because  the  owners 
of  dead  gladiators  have  to  be  indemnified. 

343.  Combats  between  Netters  (Retiarii)  and  Heavy- 
Armed  Warriors  (Thracians). —  So  combat  follows  combat, 
while  the  sands  grow  red  and  one  warrior  falls  simply  by 
slipping  upon  the  gore.  The  suffocating  fumes  of  blood  rise 
through  the  bars  of  sunlight  under  the  great  awning.  The 
people  grow  more  and  more  excited.  There  will  be  hun- 
dreds of  beggars  to-night  in  Rome  on  account  of  the  reckless 

At  last  the  trumpets  sound  for  what  is  always  the  crowning 
feature  of  the  exhibition  —  the  chief  thing  which  the  multi- 
tudes have  really  waited  all  day  to  see  —  ten  retiarii  are  to 
fight  ten  "  Thracians/'  The  retiarii  ("  netters  ")  wear  not 
the  least  armor.  They  carry  nothing  but  three-pronged 

The  Public  Games  405 

lances  and  thick  nets,  which  last  they  endeavor  to  fling  over 
their  adversaries,  entangle  them,  and  then  stab  with  their 
tridents  ere  they  can  cut  loose.  The  "  Thracians  "  have 
heavy  suits  of  armor  and  formidable  swords.1  If  a  netter 
misses  his  cast,  there  is  nothing  for  him  to  do  but  to  fly  for 
dear  life.  The  sight  of  a  powerful,  armed  Thracian  toiling 
after  the  leaping,  dodging  retiarius  is  a  source  of  universal 
joy  to  the  amphitheaters.  The  people  rise  on  the  benches 
and  join  in  a  kind  of  intoxication  and  blood  orgy.  "  Verbera! 
Verbera!  Occide!  Decide!"  "Lay  on!  Kill !"— rises  as  a 
thunder  to  heaven. 

344.  End  of  the  Combats :  Rewarding  the  Victors.  —  It 
profits  not  to  dwell  on  the  half  hour  which  follows.  Plenty 
of  skill,  valor,  and  swiftness  are  shown  alike  by  netters  and 
by  heavy-armed  warriors.  One  by  one  part  of  the  twenty 
drop,  and  for  a  while  the  passions  of  the  people  permit  no 
mercy.  The  Charon  appears  several  times;  but  there  is  a 
young  Spanish  netter  whose  nimbleness  and  reckless  courage 
win  great  favor,  and  many  are  muttering,  "  We  want  to  see 
him  again."  There  is  also  a  very  experienced  Thracian  whose 
owner  will  demand  from  Cluentius  a  round  indemnity,  if 
the  fight  is  pushed  to  a  finish  and  his  precious  chattel  is 

^As  a  result  when  four  wounded  men  together  drop  their 
weapons  and  signal  for  mercy,  white  handkerchiefs  begin 
waving  all  over  the  amphitheater  and  Cluentius  is  glad  to 
shake  out  his  also.  The  combats  are  over.  The  victorious 
gladiators,  if  they  are  unhurt  enough  to  stand,  are  led  before 
the  podium  and  to  each  are  handed  palms  of  victory. 

There  is  furthermore  a  crowning  ceremony.    One  Certus, 

1  There  were  at  least  two  other  types  of  heavy-armed  gladiators  who 
are  often  mentioned  —  the  "Samnites"  and  the  "  Mynnillones "  ;  but 
it  hardly  seems  profitable  to  examine  the  small  particulars  in  which  their 
arms  differed  from  those  of  the  "Thracians." 

406  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

a  very  famous  netter,  has  by  previous  understanding  taken 
only  a  formal  part  in  the  combats.  Now,  while  the  whole 
multitude  leaps  up  to  acclaim  him,  Cluentius  himself  rises 
and  gives  him  the  wooden  sword  —  the  sign  that  he  need 
fight  and  risk  his  life  no  more.  Henceforth  Certus  will 
become  himself  no  doubt  a  lanista,  and  train  hundreds  of 
other  brawny  youths  to  yield  up  their  lives  for  the  amuse- 
ment of  Rome. 

The  amphitheater  empties  from  all  its  numerous  vomitoria. 
The  crowd  goes  home  well  contented,  praising  Cluentius  and 
hoping  he  will  be  assigned  a  fine  province  to  govern.  True 
it  has  not  been  as  if  the  Emperor  were  present  —  then  there 
might  have  been  two  hundred  or  more  gladiators,  an  enor- 
mous slaughter  of  beasts ;  fountains  could  have  played  in  the 
arena  to  refresh  the  air,  and  perfumes  could  have  been  scat- 
tered from  the  awnings ;  or  the  arena  might  easily  have  been 
flooded  for  a  sea  fight  between  two  squadrons  of  small  galleys. 

Nevertheless,  Cluentius  has  done  very  well  for  a  mere 
Praetor ;  and  he  will  have  to  pay  indemnity  for  about  four- 
teen of  his  forty  gladiators,  a  very  fair  average  to  get  butch- 
ered. "  It  has  been  a  pleasant  enough  holiday  (say  many) 
in  a  toiling  and  busy  world,  and  the  rumor  goes  that  for  the 
next  Ides  at  the  Consul's  games  they  have  rounded  up  a  whole 
gang  of  robbers  who  will  all  be  fed  to  the  lions !  " 



345.  Religious    Symbols  Everywhere    in    Rome.  —  The 
circus  races  and  the  amphitheater  butcheries  are  nominally 
in  honor  of  some  god.     It  is  perhaps  Vulcan  in  whose  name 
Cluentius  has  hired  the  gladiators  to  slaughter  one  another. 
Everywhere  about  Rome  are  imposing  temples  and  lesser 
shrines,  and  there  are  almost  more  statues  of  gods  and  demi- 
gods than  there  are  people  in  the  swarming  streets.     The 
symbolic  snakes  for  the  Lares  of  the  locality  or  of  the  house- 
hold, are  painted  upon  thousands  of  walls.     All  this  would 
indicate  that  the  Romans  of  the  Empire  are  extraordinarily 
religious.     How  far  does  this  outward  seeming  correspond  to 
the  actual  facts  ? 

346.  Epicureanism   and  Agnosticism    among  the   Upper 
Classes.  —  If  we  penetrate  the  life  of  men  like  Publius  Calvus 
and  others  of  the  upper  circle,  apparently  we  are  dealing  with 
persons  who  are  almost,  if  not  complete,  agnostics.     Some 
are  cheerful  Epicureans  who  formally  deny  that  there  are 
any  deities  that  concern  themselves  with  mortal  affairs,  and 
who  for  their  own  part  look  upon  the  world  as  a  chance 
aggregation  of  atoms,  and  upon  life  as  one  physical  sensation 
after  another  with  nothing  later  awaiting  a  man  but  eternal 
slumber  in  the  grave.     Moral  "  laws  "  merely  exist  to  adjust 
human  relationships,  so  that  you  can  win  the  maximum  en- 
joyment from  day  to  day. 

Theories  like  this  can  be  justified  in  sonorous,  noble  lan- 
guage, as  in  the  great  poems  of  Lucretius,  but  the  underly- 



A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

ing  philosophy  remains  the  same.  Cluentius,  the  Praetor, 
whose  library  is  crammed  with  Epicurean  writings,  has,  in 
fact,  just  been  ordering  chiseled  on  his  ostentatious  funeral 
monument,  "  Eat,  drink,  enjoy  yourself—  the  rest  is  nothing."  l 
347.  Stoicism:  Revival  of  Religion  tinder  the  Empire, — 
Calvus  himself,  a  decidedly  practical  man  not  too  fond  of 

MAISON  CARRIE,  N?MES,   FRANCE:  the  best  preserved  temple  of  the 
Roman  type  in  existence. 

nice  speculations,  takes  greater  pleasure  in  the  theories  of 
the  Stoics.    The  stern  teaching  that  "  duty  "  is  the  be-all 

1  An  actual  Roman  epitaph.  The  ^Epicurean  theory  was  capable  of 
statement  in  much  more  pleasing  language  than  is  given  above,  but  the 
effect  of  such  a  philosophy  upon  the  ordinary  human  viewpoint  and 
conduct  was  inevitable. 

At  the  Roman  colony  of  Thamugade  in  Africa,  a  checkerboard  was 
found  scratched  in  the  pavement  of  the  Forum,  and  beside  it  this  plebeian 
version  of  the  Praetor's  inscription:  "To  hunt,  to  bctihe,  to  gamble^  to 
laugh  —  thcd's  living  !  " 

The  Roman  Religion  409 

and  end-all  of  life,  and  that  true  freedom  and  happiness  come 
only  by  a  scrupulous  discharge  of  every  obligation,  appeals 
strongly  to  many  hard-headed  Romans.  It  fits  in  well  with 
their  old  native  religion,  and  they  accept  it  without  much 
abstract  philosophizing.  But  the  "  God "  discussed  by 
Zeno,  Cleanthes,  and  the  later  Stoics  is  only  a  hard,  imper- 
sonal, resistless  force,  —  "  Eternal  Law  "  under  another 
name.  He  is  in  nowise  a  merciful  Heavenly  Father,  any 
more  than  he  is  a  youthful,  beauteous,  and  very  human 
Apollo.  Calvus,  in  short,  is  hardly  more  convinced  than 
his  friend  Cluentius,  the  Epicurean,  that  there  really  exists 
any  personal  deity.1 

However,  religion  as  an  outward  institution,  has  been 
steadily  gaining  under  the  Roman  Empire.  Probably  never 
were  there  ever  more  unabashed  atheists  than  such  person- 
ages as  Sulla  and  Julius  Caesar  in  the  last  decades  of  the 
Republic,  —  men  not  without  pet  superstitions  perhaps  and 
a  belief  in  their  "  stars/'  but  who  were  almost  cynical  in 
their  expressions  of  disbelief  in  any  ruling  Providence,  and 
to  whom  temples  and  worship  were  only  convenient  political 
engines  for  befooling  the  mob. 

Augustus  nevertheless  was  probably  somewhat  more  of  a 
believing  man  himself,  and  he  grasped  the  enormous  value  of 
reinvigorating  the  old  cults,  rebuilding  the  crumbling  shrines, 
and  finally  of  rekindling  the  conviction  that  there  existed  a 
stabilizing  and  avenging  host  of  deities  as  a  means  for  getting 
moral  sanction  and  support  for  his  new  imperial  regime. 
Since  the  battle  of  Actium,  temples  have  multiplied,  priest- 
hoods have  been  carefully  maintained,  and  solemn  religious 
ceremonies  and  sacrifices  have  been  promoted  by  the  gov- 

1  In  all  the  extensive  correspondence  of  Pliny  the  Younger  there  is 
hardly  a  single  reference  indicating  that  he  had  any  religious  beliefs,  or 
took  the  least  interest  in  religious  matters  save  as  they  involved  outward 
ceremonies  or  official  policies. 

410  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

eminent ;  in  short,  a  great  and  partially  successful  effort  has 
been  put  forth  to  galvanize  into  a  kind  of  life  that  early 
"  Religion  of  Numa,"  which  once  molded  the  ideals  of  the 
little  city  by  the  Tiber. 

348.  Foreign  Cults  Intruded  upon  the  "  Religion  of  Numa." 
—  Religious  beliefs  and  institutions  at  Rome,  however,  are 
only  in  part  derived  from  the  cults  and  forms  of  old  Italy, 
whether  Etruscan  or  Latin.  The  Greek  mythology  has 
been  so  taken  over  by  the  poets  that  often  it  is  hard  to 
sift  out  the  indigenous  Italian  stories  from  the  great  mass  of 
imported  legends  in  which  Jupiter  and  Juno  manifestly  are 
merely  the  Latin  names  for  Hellenic  Zeus  and  Hera.  Fur- 
thermore, there  has  come  a  perfect  influx  of  oriental  gods : 
Egyptian  Isis,  Syrian  Baal,  Phrygian  Cybele,  Persian  Mith- 
ras —  these  are  merely  some  of  the  more  important. 

The  Roman  attitude  toward  foreign  deities  is  tolerant; 
provided  one  keeps  up  the  outward  forms  of  reverence  for 
the  old  native  deities,  it  does  no  serious  harm  if  people  feel 
happier  because  they  burn  incense  to  the  dog-headed  Anubis, 
or  to  the  uncouth  gods  of  Phoenicia.  Of  course  these  alien 
rites  must  not  be  too  gross ;  such  as  were  the  outrageous  old 
Bacchanals  who  were  broken  up  in  186  B.C.,  or  the  Gallic 
Druids  who  permitted  human  sacrifice.  Otherwise  a  "  for- 
eign superstition  "  is  a  matter  merely  for  a  contemptuous 
shrug  or  sneer. 

The  result  is  that  the  cults  seen  in  Rome  under  the  Empire 
often  appear  as  a  vast  jumble  of  things  Greek,  Levantine, 
Oriental,  and  even  Celtic.  The  Emperor  and  Senate  seldom 
bother  themselves  about  matters  of  inward  belief ;  Rome  has 
its  gladiators  but  it  has  no  Inquisition. 

Nevertheless,  the  old  Italian  religion  is  still  the  official 
cultus  of  the  state.  Its  forms  are  carefully  cherished ;  it  is 
insensibly  modified  but  it  is  never  repudiated.  There  are 
almost  the  same  priesthoods,  the  same  sacred  formulas  and 

The  Roman  Religion  411 

machinery  of  religion  as  in  the  days  of  the  Punic  Wars.1 
They  are  kept  up  partly  out  of  patriotic  pride  in  all  sur- 
vivals of  the  heroic  past,  partly  because  they  help  the  govern- 
ment to  control  the  "  mob  "  and  the  highly  superstitious 
soldiery,  partly  (it  must  in  fairness  be  added)  because  very 
intelligent  persons  believe  that  the  ancient  Italian  religion 
somehow  contributes  to  the  safety  and  stability  of  the  Em- 
pire, —  that  when  Jupiter  Capitolinus  falls  the  dominion  of 
Rome  will  actually  fall  with  him. 

349.  Superstitious  Piety  of  the  City  Plebeians.  —  As  for 
the  multitude,  the  enormous  population  in  the  insulee,  if 
it  has  little  intelligent  faith,  it  has  abundant  ignorant  cre- 
dulity. The  outward  service  of  the  gods  brings  good  luck. 

If  the  public  rites  fail  and  if  blasphemers  (like  the  execrable 
Christians)  arise,  the  corn  ships  will  not  get  through  from 
Alexandria,  the  Tiber  will  overflow,  the  pestilence  will  sweep 
off  thousands  and  —  almost  equal  calamity  —  the  favorite 
aurigse  and  gladiators  on  the  gamblers'  tablets  will  lose  in 
the  games.  If  a  private  man  neglects  the  gods,  his  shop  or 
business  ventures  can  go  bankrupt,  his  children  die,  his  wife 
decamps  with  a  freedman,  disease  can  rack  him,  premature 
death  smite  him,  and  his  tomb  be  demolished  to  the  complete 
obliteration  of  his  memory.  Possibly  even  his  ghost  will 
drift  about  unhappily  in  desert  places.  Every  possible  mo- 
tive, therefore,  requires  governors  and  governed  to  stand 
in  well  with  the  gods. 

Let  us,  therefore,  examine  this  "Religion  of  Numa" 
which  is  living  yet,  as  the  official  cultus  of  Rome ;  then  a  few 
words  can  be  said  about  its  alien  competitors. 

360.  Roman  Religion  Originally  Developed  by  Italian 
Fanners.  —  The  old  Italian  farmers  who  shaped  this  religion 

1  This  apparently  continued  true  until  well  into  the  fourth  century, 
when  the  whole  pagan  system  was  swept  away  by  Christianity. 

412  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

were  singularly  lacking  in  imagination.  Very  few  are  the 
myths  for  which  the  poets  can  claim  a  non-Greek  origin. 
The  world  is  conceived  of  as  being  full  of  deities  which  often 
are  so  little  personified  that  one  cannot  be  sure  of  their  actual 
sex:  "  Be  propitious,  0  Divine  One  (numen),  be  thou  male 
or  be  thou  female!"  is  the  proper  formula  for  beginning 
many  ancient  prayers. 

Some  of  these  divinities,  to  be  sure,  are  well-defined  and 
powerful  gods  such  as  Jupiter  the  Sky-God,  Mars  the  War- 
God,  and  Juno  the  potent  and  matronly  spouse  of  Jupiter. 
Such  deities  came  with  the  ancestors  of  the  Italians  when 
they  wandered  down  from  the  North  into  that  southern 
peninsula  which  they  occupied  many  centuries  ago. 

Other  divinities  are  ancient  adoptions  from  the  Etruscans 
or  from  the  Greeks,  Minerva,  the  protectress  of  such  female 
arts  as  weaving  and  spinning  and  later  of  the  more  masculine 
arts,  sciences,  and  learning,  is  pretty  clearly  the  Minerva  of 
the  Etruscans,  and  has  caught  many  attributes  from  the 
Pallas  Athena  of  the  Greeks.  Apollo  came,  perhaps,  via 
Etruria,  where  they  called  him  Aplu,  and  not  directly  from 
Hellas,  but  no  temple  was  built  to  him  until  after  Greek  as 
well  as  Etruscan  influence  in  Rome  had  become  very  strong. 
Diana  or  Luna  ("  Madame  Moon  ")  was  an  old  moon  god- 
dess, possibly  the  same  as  the  Etruscan  Losna,  and  only  by 
a  late  and  very  unfortunate  identification  has  she  become 
confounded  with  Apollo's  Greek  sister  Artemis,  the  virgin 
huntress  on  the  Arcadian  hills. 

One  great  goddess,  however,  Venus,  is  probably  a  good 
old  Italian  deity  of  substantial  homely  virtues:  she  is 
still  invoked  as  Venus  Cloacina  ("  Venus  the  Purifier  "), 
when  it  is  necessary  to  cleanse  the"  great  sewers ;  a  func- 
tion seldom  remembered  when  giddy  youths  confound  her 
with  the  Greek  Aphrodite,  and  beg  her  to  help  their  illicit 
love  affairs ! 

The  Roman  Religion 


361.  Native  Italian  Gods:  Janus,  Saturn,  Flora.  The 
Lares  and  Penates.  —  All  these  gods  and  certain  other 
familiar  deities  such  as  Mercury  patron  of  trade  and  gain, 
Neptune  lord  of  the  sea,  Vulcan  the  clever  smith,  and  finally, 
but  in  nowise  least,  Vesta  the  hearth  goddess,  and  Ceres  the 
Mistress  of  the  Corn,  make  up  the  official  "  Great  Gods  "  in 
whose  honor  the  public 
games  are  held,  and  to 
whom  Emperors  and 
Consuls  proffer  vows 
and  sacrifice. 

Highly  important 
also  is  the  strictly  na- 
tive Italian  Janus,  the 
two-faced  lord  of  be- 
ginnings and  endings, 
probably  an  ancient 
Sun-God;  whom  one 
should  invoke  at  the 
opening  of  every  fresh 
day,  and  in  whose 
honor  (quite  appropri- 
ately) the  month  of 
January  is  named  with  New  Year's  Day  especially  desig- 
nated to  his  festival.1  There  is  furthermore  Saturn,  a  rural 
deity,  who  has  been*  identified  with  the  Greek  Cronos 
("Father  Time");  there  is  Orchus  who  rules  the  under- 
world; there  is  Liber  the  masculine  field  god,  consort  of 
Ceres  and  sometimes  confounded  with  the  Greek  Bacchus ; 
there  is  Bona  Dea  ("  Good  Goddess  ")  a  mistress  of  agricul- 
ture, possibly  only  another  aspect  of  Ceres ;  there  is  Flora, 

FARMER'S  CALENDAR:    showing  festivals 
each  month. 

1  Janus  had  no  Greek  counterpart.  It  was  one  of  the  absurdities  of 
the  late  Gr»co-Latin  mythology  that  his  wife  Diana  (Dia  Jana  - 
"Madame  Goddess  Jana")  should  have  been  confounded  with  Artemis. 

414  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

the  kindly  patroness  not  merely  of  the  flowers  but  of  all  the 
prosaic  vegetable  gardens ;  and  there  also  is  Robigus,  a  ma- 
levolent garden  deity  who  must  be  propitiated  with  frequent 
offerings  or* he  will  mildew  the  crops. 

All  these  gods  (except  the  evil  Robigus)  are  near  and  dear 
to  the  average  plebeian,  and  especially  to  the  farmers.  In 
addition  there  are  the  Lares  and  Penates.  We  have  seen 
how  they  are  guardian  spirits  of  the  households  —  never 
forgotten  in  any  mansion  or  upon  any  social  occasion. 

The  state  has  its  own  "  Public  Lares  and  Penates  "  as  well 
as  private  households ;  the  former  are  the  spirits  of  the  gal- 
lant patriots  of  old  like  the  first  Brutus,  Cincinnatus,  Camil- 
lus,  and  Scipio  Major.  The  second  are  the  immortal  "  Twin 
Brethren  "  —  Castor  and  Pollux,  who  have  ridden  to  rescue 
Roman  armies  on  many  a  hard-fought  field.  No  public  sac- 
rifice can  avail  unless  at  least  formal  reference  is  made  to  the 
public  Lares  and  Penates  along  with  the  special  god  receiving 

Reenf  orcing  these  divinities  is  a  whole  host  of  special  rural 
deities,  who,  in  a  country  still  very  dependent  on  agriculture, 
receive  special  honor  in  all  the  profitable  villas  and  farms 
crowding  up  to  the  gates  of  Rome ;  Faumis  and  Lupercus  are 
herdsmen's  gods  well  matching  the  Hellenic  Pan ;  Silvanus 
presides  over  the  woodlands  and  timber-lots,  Pales  is  a  much 
beloved  shepherd's  god,  Pomona  cares  for  the  orchards,  Ver- 
tumnus  for  the  normal  change  of  the  seasons ;  Anna  Perena 
is  the  goddess  of  the  circling  year ;  and  Terminus  takes  care 
that  the  boundary  stones  (so  important  to  farmers)  are  not 

862.  Personified  Virtues  as  Gods:  Cold  and  Legalistic 
Character  of  the  Roman  Religion.  —  However,  these  deities 
are  increased  by  a  great  host  of  personified  moral  and  civic 
qualities.  Nothing  is  easier  in  Rome  than  to  assume  that 
every  desirable  virtue  must  have  some  kind  of  a  numen 

The  Roman  Religion 


(divine  potence)  behind  it.  Around  the  city  one  can  find 
temples,  e.g.  to  Honor,  Hope,  Good  Faith,  Modesty,  Concord, 
Peace,  Victory,  Liberty,  Public  Safety,  Youth,  and  Fame. 
This  is  only  a  minor  part  of  the  list. 

Church  of  Sancta  Maria  del  Sole,  Rome. 

It  is  assumed  in  fact  that  every  act  or  process  of  human  life 
has  its  special  numen  who  can  be  invoked  to  make  that  act 
successful.  Thus  after  young  Sextus,  Calvus's  son,  was  born, 
his  very  pious  nurses  first  invoked  Vaticanus  who  opened  his 

416  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

mouth  for  his  first  cry,  then  Cucina  who  guarded  his  cradle, 
then  Edulia  and  Potina  who  taught  him  to  eat  and  drink, 
Stabilius  who  aided  him  first  to  stand  up,  and  Abeona  and 
Adeona  who  watched  over  his  first  footsteps  "  going  "  and 
"  returning."  His  sophisticated  parents  doubtless  smiled  at 
this  scrupulous  piety,  but  they  did  nothing  to  discourage  it. 

These  cold  impersonal  divinities  stand  to  man  in  a  legal 
rather  than  a  theological  relationship.  Men  and  the  nutnina 
have  made  a  kind  of  contract  —  so  much  prayer  and  ceremo- 
nial sacrifice  must  be  offered  in  return  for  so  much  good  favor, 
prosperity,  and  protection.  Do  ut  des  ("  I  give  that  you  may 
give  ")  sums  up  the  whole  spirit  of  the  Roman  religion. 

Numa  the  alleged  founder  of  so  many  cults  was  not  a 
prophet  or  an  inspired  poet  but  a  king  and  lawgiver.  A  wise 
man  is  always  pious ;  that  is,  he  always  gives  to  the  gods  their 
precise  due  according  to  carefully  set  forms,  otherwise  the 
divinities  may  evade  their  part  of  the  contract,  just  as  a  mer- 
chant is  not  bound  to  execute  a  bargain  hi  which  the  other 
party  has  failed  to  do  precisely  as  was  stipulated. 

If  prayers  and  sacrifice  fail  in  their  purpose,  it  is  reasonable 
to  suppose  that  the  fault  lies  in  "the  formula  and  the  victims 
employed.  The  pig,  sheep,  or  other  victim  must  then  be 
sacrificed  over  again  with  greater  scrupulosity.  On  the  other 
hand,  willful  neglect  of  worship  is  as  surely  punished  by  the 
gods  as  willful  neglect  of  paying  one's  debts  is  punished 
by  the  Prsetor.  The  fate  of  the  impious  will  be  somewhat 
like  that  of  the  absconding  debtor,  only  much  more  dreadful. 

Needless  to  say  this  " Religion  of  Numa"  contains  no 
more  spirituality  than  the  hard  stones  which  pave  the  Forum. 
It  does,  however,  put  a  genuine  premium  upon  the  rigid 
performance  of  duty,  and  thereby  sometimes  reacts  favorably 
upon  human  conduct. 

353.  Priestly  Offices :  Little  Sacrosanct  about  Them.  — 
For  these  necessary  ceremonies  mankind  requires  priests, 

The  Roman  Religion  417 

but  they  are  not  revered  interpreters  of  the  divine  will,  nor 
are  they  mysterious  mediators  between  Providence  and  men ; 
they  are  rather  attorneys  employed  by  men  to  represent 
them  competently  in  their  dealings  with  the  divinities. 

Small  religious  matters,  the  minor  private  sacrifices,  etc*, 
can  be  attended  to  without  a  priest,  just  as  you  do  not  need  a 
jurisconsult  to  assist  in  petty  purchases.  Greater  religious 
matters,  private  and  still  more  if  public,  however,  require 
experts  to  see  that  the  right  formulae  are  spoken  and  sacri- 
fices proffered.  Any  Roman  of  flawless  birth  and  of  good 
character  is  eligible  for  most  of  the  priesthoods,  although 
there  are  a  few  reserved  for  the  narrow  circle  of  the  old 
patrician  families.  Holding  these  religious  offices  does  not 
ordinarily  imply  dropping  one's  secular  interests  or  having 
the  least  philosophical  belief  in  the  ceremonies  so  carefully 
performed.  Julius  Caesar  was  Pontifex  Maximus  while  he 
was  Proconsul  of  the  Gauls,  and  while  he  was  a  firm  disbe- 
liever in  the  existence  of  any  gods  at  all. 

Of  course  every  small  temple  has  to  have  its  proper  custo- 
dians whom  we  may  call  "  priests,"  to  attend  to  the  private 
sacrifices ;  and  there  are  besides  plenty  of  unofficial  diviners 
and  soothsayers  who  can  answer  your  question,  "  Is  this  a 
lucky  day  for  the  wedding  of  my  daughter?  "  or  "  Do  the 
omens  warn  against  buying  this  farm  ?  "  The  great  public 
ministers  of  religion,  however,  are  really  officers  of  state,  ap- 
pointed by  the  Emperor,1  and  usually  they  are  grouped  in  fa- 
mous "  Sacred  Colleges  "  wherein  the  members  hold  office  for 
life.  Ordinarily  the  persons  thus  honored  are  distinguished 
senators  selected  after  an  honorable  civil  and  military  career. 

354.  The  Pontifices.  —  On  the  whole  the  greatest  official 
glory  comes  to  the  fifteen  pontifices.  Not  merely  do  they 

1  Under  the  later  Republic  these  sacred  colleges  were  filled  according 
to  the  majority  vote  of  17  tribes  of  the  people,  selected  by  lot  from  the 
entire  35  tribes  into  which  the  Comitia  Tribute  was  divided. 

418  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

possess  the  general  oversight  of  everything  concerning  cultus, 
but  they  have  as  their  chief  colleague  the  Emperor  himself, 
who  always  holds  the  post  of  Pontifex  Maximus  —  head  of 
the  Roman  religion. 

Before  Julius  Csesar  reformed  the  calendar  the  pontifices 
had  the  important  task  of  settling  each  year  what  days  were 
to  be  dies  fasti,  whereon  alone  legal  business  could  be  lawfully 
conducted,  and  they  have  still  the  power  to  interfere  in  almost 
any  doings  concerning  sacrifice,  ritual,  temple  properties,  etc. 
Their  head,  the  Pontifex  Maximus,  has  particularly  to  watch 
over  and  control  the  Vestal  Virgins ;  and  the  college  at  large 
still  has  the  custody  of  the  famous  Libri  Pontificates,  the 
"  Pontifical  Books,"  famous  and  ancient  volumes  containing 
instructions  for  all  kinds  of  unfamiliar  religious  rites  and 
procedure  in  strange  religious  emergencies.1 

365-  The  Augurs.  —  The  pontiffs,  however,  are  really 
"  Commissioners  for  Religious  Affairs  "  rather  than  actual 
priests,  and  along  with  them  goes  another  important  group  of 
"  sacred  "  personages  who  seem  almost  equally  unpriestly. 
These  are  the  augurs,  the  official  interpreters  of  the  will  of 
heaven;  and  almost  every  senator  cherishes  the  hope  of 
being  appointed  to  this  college,  notwithstanding  the  fact 
that  long  ago  Cicero  remarked  that  "  two  augurs  ought  never 
to  meet  without  winking !  "  There  are  sixteen  augurs,  who 
are  entitled  to  wear  the  embroidered  toga  praetexta  and  to 
carry  the  sacred  crooked  staff,  the  lituus.  The  science  of 
augury,  whereof  they  are  supposedly  the  supreme  custodians, 
is  something  whereon  the  men  of  old,  especially  the  Etruscans, 
expended  an  enormous  amount  of  energy. 

The  Italians  in  general  put  relatively  little  trust  in  astrol- 
ogy and  not  much  more  in  dreams  as  revealing  the  divine 

1  In  early  times  the  Pontifex  Maximus  also  kept  a  kind  of  dry  annals 
of  sacred  and  profane  events  (Annales  Mayyimi} ,  valuable  for  the  preserva- 
tion of  many  facts  in  early  Roman  history. 

The  Roman  Religion  419 

intentions.  What  greatly  matters  is  the  flight  of  birds,  the 
strange  actions  of  animals,  monstrous  births,  thunder,  mete- 
ors, and  like  prodigies.  Even  in  Hadrian's  day  plenty  of 
intelligent  men  will  shudder  with  dread  if  they  behold  a  crow 
cawing  on  their  funeral  monument ;  or  will  give  up  a  journey 
if  a  black  viper  shoots  across  the  road  just  as  their  carriage 
is  starting. 

Sneezing  or  stumbling  furthermore  can  mean  much,  and 
before  many  an  atrium  the  janitor  is  constantly  shouting 
"  Dextro  pede  !  "  "  Right  foot  first !  "  to  every  guest  entering 
the  vestibule.  Certain  signs  are  very  dreadful;  e.g.  any 
gathering  at  which  somebody  is  seized  with  epilepsy  (a 
manifest  token  of  divine  anger)  must  be  instantly  dissolved. 

If,  however,  the  gods  do  not  speak  thus  openly,  no  public 
act  should  be  performed  without  at  least  asking  the  formal 
question,  "  Is  heaven  favorable  ?  "  This  may  be  done  by 
watching  the  consecrated  chickens  while  they  devour  the 
grain  as  at  the  opening  of  the  Senate  (see  p.  340), 1  but  more 
elaborate  and  reliable  is  a  careful  watching  of  the  heavens  for 
signs.  If  an  augur  sees  ravens  on  the  right-hand  side  of  the 
sky,  the  sign  is  lucky ;  but  a  crow  in  order  not  to  f orbode 
evil  must  appear  on  the  left.  The  actions  of  eagles,  owls, 
woodpeckers,  and  certain  other  birds  are  more  complicated. 
Their  cries,  the  manner  of  their  flight,  as  well  as  the  direction 
whence  they  come  all  have  to  be  considered. 

Time  fails  to  describe  the  careful  ritual  necessary  for  the 
augurs,  when,  at  the  request  of  some  high  magistrate,  they 
interrogate  the  gods  to  see  if  heaven  is  pleased  at  some  pro- 

1 A  general  in  the  field  had  to  "take  the  auspices"  to  get  good  omens 
for  his  army,  but  of  course  he  could  not  always  have  an  augur  present. 
Once  in  the  first  Punic  War,  Publius  Claudius,  a  consul  about  to  engage 
in  a  naval  battle,  was  disgusted  to  be  told,  "The  chickens  will  not  eat." 
"Very  well  then,"  he  retorted,  "let  them  drink ! "  and  flung  them  into  the 
sea.  To  his  own  ruin  and  to  the  vindication  of  the  official  religion  he 
was  thereupon  completely  defeated  by  the  Carthaginians  1 

420  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

posed  official  action.  It  is  not  necessary,  however,  to  get 
a  positively  favorable  sign ;  often  it  is  enough  that  during 
a  suitable  interval  the  augur  should  fail  to  observe  any  un- 
happy bird,  any  meteor,  thunder  claps,  or  the  like.  This 
propitious  interval  constitutes  a  formal  "  silence  "  (silen- 
tium) ;  and  many  an  augur  has  shown  himself  conveniently 
deaf  or  blind  to  noises  or  sights  that  might  prohibit  some 
desired  deed.  Nevertheless  the  solemn  farce  is  always  main- 
tained, for  when  do  Romans  ever  discard  any  time-honored 

366.  The  Flamines.  —  The  augurs  rank  with  the  pontiffs 
high  in  public  honors,  but  the  most  important  actual  priests 
in  Rome  are  the  flamines.  There  are  fifteen  flamines  dis- 
tributed among  the  services  of  the  various  gods,  but  three 
rank  above  all  others  —  the  flamens  of  Jupiter,  Mars,  and 
of  Quirinus  (deified  Romulus),  with  the  first  named,  called 
more  particularly  the  Flamen  Dialis,  at  their  head. 

It  is  an  extraordinary  honor  to  be  named  Flamen  Dialis, 
and  Gratia  reckons  it  among  the  chief  of  her  family  glories 
that  she  has  an  uncle  now  enjoying  for  life  this  high  priest- 
hood. The  Flamen  of  Jupiter  is  entitled  to  a  curule  chair  as 
if  he  were  a  magistrate,  and  takes  social  precedence  above 
nearly  everybody  save  the  Emperor  and  the  consuls ;  he 
also  wears  the  toga  prsetexta  like  other  exalted  personages, 
although  it  must  be  of  thick  wool  woven  by  the  hands  of  his 
wife.  In  addition  he  has  to  appear,  always  crowned  with  a 
special  high  pointed  cap,  not  unlike  the  "  fool's-cap  "  of 
other  times,  and  tipped  with  the  apex,  a  pointed  spike  of  olive 
wood  wound  with  a  lock  of  wool. 

Old  Papirius  is  among  the  most  envied  men  in  Rome,  yet 
he  complains  bitterly  of  the  price  he  has  to  pay  for  his  glory. 
He  cannot  mount  a  horse,  or  even  look  upon  an  army  in 
battle  array.  He  cannot  swear  an  oath,  or  spend  a  single 
night  away  from  the  city,  however  comfortable  may  be  his 

The  Roman  Religion  421 

family  villas  in  the  hot  season.  The  cuttings  of  his  hair  and 
nails  must  be  carefully  preserved  and  buried  beneath  an 
arbor  felix  (lucky  tree).  He  must  never  eat  of  or  even 
mention  a  goat,  beans,  or  several  other  forbidden  objects. 

Above  all  Papirius's  wife,  the  flaminica,  whom  he  had  to 
marry  with  special  ceremonies,  is  indispensable  to  him  in 
many  acts  of  religion  and  he  is  forbidden  to  divorce  her, 
although  his  life  with  the  noble  Claudia  is  none  too  happy. 
Worse  still  if  she  should  die,  he  must  immediately  resign  his 
office.  The  other  fourteen  flamines  enjoy  somewhat  lesser 
glories,  offset  by  slightly  lesser  taboos.  They  are,  however, 
the  fifteen  most  sacred  male  individuals  in  all  Rome. 

367.  The  SoZii  ("Holy  Leapers  ")• — Of  less  glory  than 
the  flamines,  but  nevertheless  of  venerable  sanctity  are  the 
twelve  other  priests  of  Mars,  the  college  of  the  Salii  ("  Holy 
Leapers").  To  them  are  committed  the  twelve  holy  shields, 
the  Ancilice,  one  whereof  is  affirmed  to  have  fallen  from 

Calvus  has  an  elderly  cousin,  Donatus,  who  lately  was 
appointed  by  Hadrian  to  the  Salii.  During  the  last  Kalends 
of  March  nobody  cracked  a  smile  when  these  twelve  sedate 
and  aristocratic  gentlemen,  wearing  their  apex-crowned 
caps,  long  embroidered  tunics,  and  brazen  cuirasses,  with 
spear  in  one  hand  and  the  holy  shields  on  the  other,  went 
through  the  city  stopping  in  many  of  the  squares  and  before 
the  larger  temples  and  executing  violent  dances,  leaping, 
cavorting,  and  chanting  with  loud  voice  "  Salian  Hymns  "  — 
verses  in  such  ancient  Latin  that  they  hardly  understood  their 
own  shrill  jargon.  When  the  round  of  the  city  was  ended 
and  they  had  danced  and  sung  for  the  last  time,  the  holy  men 
were  quite  exhausted. 

The  consolation  for  these  holy  men  followed  quickly, 
however.  That  evening  they  held  a  grand  corporation 
dinner.  The  augurs  are  famous  for  their  elaborate  banquets 

422  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

worthy  of  an  Apicius,  but  the  Salii  on  the  whole  surpass  the 
augurs.  A  Saliares  daps  —  "  Holy  Leaper's  dinner  "  —  has 
become  the  synonym  for  the  triumph  of  good  eating. 

368.  The  Fetiales  ("  Sacred  Heralds  ") :  Ceremony  of 
Declaring  War.  —  Calvus  himself  belongs  to  a  religious 
college  of  rather  waning  consequence,  but  of  great  antiquity. 
He  is  a  fetial. 

Anciently  at  least  no  treaty  was  binding  unless  it  had  been 
ratified  with  most  solemn  religious  ceremonies.  To  deal 
with  the  gods  hi  international  affairs  Numa  is  said,  therefore, 
to  have  established  a  college  of  twenty  fetiales  —  the  holy 
heralds.  Their  president,  the  Pater  Patratus,  represented 
the  whole  Roman  people  when  it  came  to  swearing  the  oaths 
and  offering  the  sacrifices  for  concluding  a  treaty,  and  even 
in  Hadrian's  day  some  of  the  ancient  usages  are  maintained. 
A  peace  has  lately  been  made  with  the  King  of  Parthia,  and 
in  the  presence  of  his  envoy  at  Rome  the  venerable  ex-consul, 
the  Pater  Patratus,  took  his  sacred  flints,  laid  a  special  wreath 
of  the  holy  "  verbena  "  plant  on  the  altar,  and  kindled  the 
fire  for  the  sacrifice  that  confirmed  the  peace.1 

More  important  once  was  the  chief  herald's  duty  in  declar- 
ing a  war ;  for  it  seemed  useless  to  hope  for  victory  unless 
first  by  legalistic  formula  the  enemy  was  put  in  the  wrong 
before  the  gods.  The  Pater  Patratus  with  at  least  three  of 
his  colleagues  was  expected  to  march  solemnly  to  the  hostile 
frontier,  next  with  due  ceremony  to  recite  the  wrongs  of 
Rome  and  demand  redress  and  to  hurl  a  spear  dipped  in  blood 
across  the  boundary ;  then  and  not  till  then  could  the  legions 
march  forth  in  any  offensive  war. 

It  is  a  great  distance  now,  however,  to  the  frontier  of  the 
Empire  and  the  white-headed  Pater  Patratus  keenly  dis- 

1  These  plants  (verbena)  seem  to  have  been  grown  within  one  special 
inclosure  on  the  Capitol  hill.  They  were  carried  by  one  of  the  fetiales 
known  aa  the  verbenariua. 

The  Roman  Religion  423 

likes  to  quit  for  months  his  luxurious  residence  on  the  Quiri- 
nal ;  but  legal  ingenuity  has  long  since  enabled  him  to  pre- 
serve at  once  his  bodily  comfort  and  the  good  old  custom. 
Before  the  Temple  of  Bellona  in  the  Campus  Martius  is  a 
bit  of  ground  whereon  stands  a  certain  column.  When  re- 
cently it  seemed  desirable  to  declare  war  on  an  unneighborly 
German  tribe,  a  captive  from  these  barbarians  was  duly 
hunted  up  in  the  slave  market  at  Rome,  and  a  legal  deed  was 
solemnly  made  out  transferring  this  land  to  the  prisoner. 
The  spot  was  now  technically  "  hostile  ground/*  and  the 
Pater  Patratus  and  his  fellow  fetials  all  ordered  their  litters 
and  were  peacefully  taken  out  to  the  Temple  of  Bellona. 
The  Germans  were  carefully  summoned  to  "  do  the  Romans 
right,"  and  no  answer  coming,  the  head  fetial  with  all  the 
ancient  formulas  and  curses  flung  the  spear  into  the  column. 

The  war  could  now  proceed  with  the  gods'  full  blessing  —  a 
thoroughly  Roman  proceeding,  and  very  typical  of  many 
other  survivals,  religious  or  secular. 

359.  The  Arval  Brethren  (Fratres  Arvales).  —  There  is  an- 
other "  ancient  and  honorable  "  religious  brotherhood  —  the 
Fratres  Arvales.  There  are  twelve  Arval  brethren*,  always  in- 
cluding the  Emperor.  In  May  they  hold  a  three-day  festival 
to  the  Dea  Dia.1  Besides  regaling  themselves  then  with  an  ex- 
traordinarily luxurious  feast,  they  assemble  in  the  grove  of  the 
Dea  Dia  and  offer  to  her  two  pigs,  a  white  heifer,  and  a  lamb. 
Next  they  clear  her  temple  of  all  but  the  necessary  priests  and 
attendants,  and  dividing  themselves  into  two  bodies  of  six, 
tuck  up  their  long  tunics  and  execute  a  solemn  dance  around 
the  holy  house,  singing  meantime  a  kind  of  hymn  for  the 
blessing  of  the  fields,  a  hymn  preserved  in  such  an  uncouth 
antique  Latin  that  the  meaning  of  many  words  is  doubtful.2 

1 A  rustic  goddess  sometimes  also  called  Ops. 

2  For  a  translation  of  this  "Song  of  the  Arval  Brethren,"  see  the 
author's  "Readings  in  Ancient  History,"  vol.  II,  p.  6. 

424  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

It  is  a  most  desirable  thing  to  be  one  of  these  "  Brothers 
of  the  Fields."  The  records  of  the  college  are  kept  with  the 
greatest  care  and  their  dinners  compete  with  those  of  the 

These  are  some  only  of  the  holy  colleges,  membership 
wherein  carries  marked  social  prestige.  The  fifteen  "  Keepers 
of  the  Sibylline  Books/'  the  Epulones  who  arrange  many  of 
the  banquets  in  honor  of  the  gods,  and  the  Haruspices  who 
assist  the  augurs  particularly  in  interpreting  the  omens  from 
the  entrails  of  slaughtered  victims,  are  all  distinguished  per- 
sonages. How  many  of  them  have  one  scintilla  of  belief  in 
the  deities  they  address  and  the  rites  they  execute  it  were 
most  unbecoming  to  inquire  closely ! 

360.  Rustic  Ceremonies;  Soothsaying,  Astrologers,  and 
Witches.  —  This  religion,  then,  is  one  purely  of  outward  ritual 
coupled  with  not  a  little  superstition.  In  the  country  the 
farmers  at  the  festival  to  the  Lemures  (malevolent  ghosts  of 
the  dead)  still  may  rise  at  midnight,  walk  barefoot  through 
the  house,  fill  their  mouths  with  black  beans  which  they  spit 
forth  nine  times  without  looking  around,  saying  each  time, 
"  With  these  beans  I  redeem  me  and  mine."  Then  they 
clank  two  brazen  vessels  together  and  nine  times  shout  out, 
"  Manes  depart !  "  This  is  a  sample  of  many  similar  cere- 

Soothsayers,  who  are  often  sheer  charlatans,  are  very 
naturally  in  constant  demand  among  the  unlearned  to  resolve 
such  queries  as,  "  Will  my  mother-in-law  recover  from  jaun- 
dice ?  "  or  "  How  long  will  my  husband  live  and  keep  me  from 
my  lover  ?  "  Such  rascals  usually  tell  the  future  by  examin- 
ing the  lungs  of  a  dove.  The  entrails  of  a  dog,  however, 
are  better  although  much  more  expensive. 

Among  the  rich,  however,  "  Chaldsean  astrologers  "  are 
somewhat  fashionable,  slippery  Orientals  who  know  how  to 
wheedle  the  gold  out  of  credulous  parvenus,  even  if  the 

The  Roman  Religion 


official  religion  sets  no  great  store  upon  star-gazing.1  The 
women  are  inevitably  the  best  patrons  of  these  pretenders, 
but  their  husbands  and  brothers  often  refuse  to  start  on  a 
journey  or  to  begin  anything  else  important  until  assured 
"  the  horoscope  is  favorable."  Time  fails  us  to  tell  of  the 
employment  of  Etruscan  witches,  or  of  the  belief  in  ghosts 
and  goblins.  The  latter  are  dreaded  by  many  hard-headed 
epicureans  who  will  argue  convincingly  that  there  can  be  no 
such  thing  as  a  god  or  im- 

361.  A  Private  Sacrifice. 
—  Nevertheless,  with  all  its 
faults  this  Roman  religion 
has  few  truly  debasing  super- 
stitions. There  are  practi- 
cally no  human  sacrifices,  no 

constant  and  outrageous  use 
of  sordid  ceremonies,  no  acts 
or  beliefs  which  actually 
degrade  one's  manhood  or 
womanhood.2  All  is  deliber- 
ate, ordered,  and,  within  cer- 
tain pagan  limitations,  toler-  ROMAN  ALTAR. 
ably  reasonable. 

A  typical  Roman  sacrifice  is  a  dignified  and  well  stand- 
ardized procedure.  Only  recently  Publius  Calvus  enjoyed 

1  As  is  well  known  Tiberius  in  his  ignoble  retirement  on  the  Isle  of 
Capri  surrounded  himself  t  with  "Chaldseans"  and  other  types  of  star- 
gazers  and  magicians. 

8  There  were  a  few  isolated  survivals  in  Italy  of  the  practices  of  ancient 
savagery.  For  example  at  Aricia,  in  Latium  about  16  miles  from  Rome, 
there  was  a  holy  grove  of  Diana  wherein  the  priest  was  always  a  runaway 
slave  who  obtained  his  position  by  killing  his  predecessor.  He  was  then 
safe  from  pursuit  as  long  as  he  remained  in  the  grove,  until  another 
fugitive  slave  in  turn  killed  him  —  and  so  on  through  a  succession  of 
tragedies  I 

426  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

a  birthday,  and  custom  required  that  all  his  kinsmen  should 
come  to  congratulate  him  while  he  offered  to  the  gods  a 
snow-white  lamb,  in  gratitude  for  another  year  of  life  and 
prosperity.  The  ceremony  took  place  at  a  small  temple  of 
Juno  near  the  senator's  mansion  on  the  Esquiline,  Juno  being 
accounted  the  special  patron  deity  of  the  Junii  Calvi.  The 
victim  was  carefully  selected  by  Calvus  himself,  who  paid  an 
extra  price  for  a  creature  newly  weaned  and  with  horns  just 
sprouting.  Ostentatious  freedmen  sometimes  offered  a  fat 
bull  on  their  birthdays,  and  poorer  folk  merely  a  small  pig,1 
but  a  white  lamb  was  a  very  fitting  private  sacrifice,  not  too 
mean,  not  too  pretentious,  and  fell  in  perfectly  with  the  Ro- 
man idea  of  dealing  with  the  gods  on  honorable  business 

362.  Ceremony  at  the  Temple.  —  On  the  day  of  the  cere- 
mony Calvus  presented  himself  at  the  temple,  with  his  toga 
girded  tightly  around  his  body  in  the  special  "  Gabinian 
Cincture  "  required  in  sacrifices.  The  groups  of  kinsmen, 
friends,  freedmen,  etc.,  all  followed  decorously.  The  special 
Flamen  of  Juno,  a  friendly  senator,  appeared  with  his  vest- 
ments and  apex,  to  direct  Calvus  in  the  technical  details  of 
the  ceremony,  but,  be  it  noticed,  the  actual  priest  was  Calvus 

After  all  the  company  had  gathered  near  the  altar  and  put 
on  chaplets  of  ivy,  a  public  crier  (prceco)  commanded  in 
loud  voice,  "  Let  there  be  silence ! "  and  a  tense  interval 
followed,  every  person  holding  his  breath  lest  an  unlucky 
cough  or  sneeze  should  vitiate  the  whole  proceeding.  Noth- 
ing ill-omened  following,  the  elder  of  Calvus's  small  sons 
acting  as  camillus  (acolyte)  extended  to  his  father  a  silver 
basin  of  purifying  water  wherein  the  latter  carefully  washed 
his  hands,  dried  them  upon  a  towel  borne  by  his  younger 

1  Pigs  were  very  common  Roman  offerings  and  were  the  regular  vic- 
tims in  most  of  the  rustic  sacrifices. 

The  Roman  Religion 


boy,  then  drew  the  great  folds  of  his  toga  over  his  head,  almost 
but  not  quite  concealing  his  face. 

At  this  juncture  a  flute  player  standing  near  promptly 
struck  up  with  a  piercing  blast,  which  he  continued  much  of 
the  time  until  the  ceremony  was  nearly  over,  not  to  supply 
music  but  simply  to  prevent  any  ill-omened  sound  from  being 



heard.  Thereupon  other  youths  led  up  the  lamb.  Its  little 
horns  had  been  gilded  and  a  heavy  garland  of  flowers  twined 
about  its  neck.  It  was  needful  for  the  creature  to  seem  to 
approach  willingly,  therefore  the  halter  had  to  be  quite 
slack,  but  a  little  fodder  spread  under  the  altar  made  the 
brute  only  too  ready  for  its  fate. 

Calvus  approached  the  victim,  and  with  the  flamen  at  his 
elbow  to  dictate  every  detail,  took  wine,  incense,  and  a  mix- 


A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

ture  of  meal  and  salt,  and  sprinkled  a  trifle  of  each  upon  the 
hungry  creature's  forehead.  A  professional  attendant  cut  a 
few  hairs  from  between  the  horns  and  cast  them  on  the  burn- 
ing altar.  Then  again  prompted  by  the  flamen,  Calvus 
prayed  aloud : 

363.  A  Formal  Prayer ;  the  Actual  Sacrifice.  —  "0 
Mother  Juno,  I  pray  and  beseech  thee  that  thou  mayest  be 

gracious  and  favorable  to  me 
and  my  home  and  my  house- 
hold, for  which  course  I  have 
ordained  that  the  offering  of 
this  lamb  should  be  made  in 
accordance  with  my  vows; 
that  thou  mayest  avert,  ward 
off,  and  keep  afar  all  disease 
visible  and  invisible,  all  bar- 
renness, waste,  misfortune 
and  ill-weather;  that  thou 
mayest  cause  my  family,  af- 
fairs, and  business  to  come 
to  prosperity ;  and  that  thou 
grant  health  and  strength  to 
me,  my  home  and  my  house- 

It  was  all  very  like  the  formulas  used  by  the  lawyers  before 
the  Praetor.  No  waste  of  fine  words,  but  very  comprehen- 
sive and  no  contingency  unprovided  for. 

When  Calvus  finished,  the  temple  attendant  (popa)  stand- 
ing near  by  asked  in  set  form,  "  Shall  I  strike  ?  "  "  Strike 
him !  "  ordered  Calvus.  Instantly  the  attendant  smote  the 
lamb  a  single  merciful  blow  on  the  skull  with  a  heavy  mallet. 
The  creature  dropped  dead,  and  his  slayer  immediately 

1  Slightly  adapted  from  the  form  of  prayer  given  in  Cato  the  Elder's 
"Handbook  on  Agriculture." 


The  Roman  Religion  429 

knelt  and  stabbed  him  with  a  knife.  As  the  blood  ran  out, 
it  was  caught  in  a  basin  and  sprinkled  upon  the  altar,  along 
with  some  wine,  incense,  and  a  consecrated  cake. 

The  lamb  was  now  promptly  cut  up,  and  a  crafty-looking 
haruspex  inspected  the  color  and  form  of  the  still  palpitating 
entrails.  If  these  had  been  declared  "  unfavorable  "  in  form, 
color,  or  otherwise,  a  second  lamb  must  have  been  procured 
and  the  whole  ceremony  perforce  repeated  until  the  results 
were  fortunate,  but  the  haruspex,  certain  of  his  fee,  after  a 
decent  studying  of  the  gall,  intestines,  and  liver,  lifted  his 
head  and  said  solemnly,  "  Exta  bona!  "  "The  entrails  are 
good !  "  Thereupon  the  flamen,  hitherto  passive  or  mutter- 
ing formulas,  stepped  forward,  threw  wine,  meal,  and  incense 
upon  the  entrails ;  then  cast  the  whole  mass  of  them  upon  the 
brightly  kindled  altar-fire.  Meantime  the  actual  flesh  of 
the  lamb  was  being  gathered  up  by  Calvus's  servants  to  take 
home  for  private  consumption. 

Calvus  himself  now  drew  the  toga  up  over  his  head  the 
second  time,  and  then  called  on  Juno  with  loud  voice,  "  since 
thou  hast  accepted  this  lamb,  duly  proffered,"  to  continue 
her  tavor  on  him  and  his  house  during  the  coming  year,  "  in 
which  case  I  vow  unto  thee  another  lamb,  white  and  without 
blemish  even  as  is  this."  He  was  again,  it  would  seem,  the 
lawyer  reminding  the  other  party  to  the  contract  that  by  the 
acceptance  of  the  payment  proffered,  he  or  she  was  strictly 
obligated  to  continue  friendly  for  the  next  twelve  months. 

The  ceremony  was  therewith  ended.  The  flamen  raised 
his  hand  and  spoke  the  solemn  word  of  dismissal,  "  Ilicet," 
"  It  is  permitted  to  go."  Sacrificer,  flamen,  spectators,  and 
attendants  all  now  hurried  away  with  shout  and  laughter  to 
Calvus's  residence,  there  to  join  in  a  fine  feast  wherein  every- 
body received  a  portion  of  the  slaughtered  lamb. 

364.  The  Vestal  Virgins :  Their  Sanctity  and  Importance.  — 
Great  are  the  pontiffs,  the  augurs,  the  flamens,  and  the  mem- 


A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

bers  of  the  other  sacred  colleges.  But  they  are  all  too  prag- 
matic and  secular  to  be  taken  quite  seriously  when  they 
demand  religious  veneration.  There  is  one  Roman  college, 
however,  which  is  beyond  words  holy,  at  whose  claims  the 
most  godless  never  scoff,  and  whose  members  will  keep  alive 
the  best  traditions  of  the  religion  of  Numa  until  old  Rome 

is  tottering  to  its  fall  —  the 
Sisterhood  of  the  Vestal  Vir- 

Numa  himself,  hoary  tra- 
dition affirms,  instituted  this 
body  of  six  holy  maidens, 
although  no  doubt  similar 
companies  could  have  been 
discovered  in  many  other 
primitive  Italian  communi- 
ties. Their  origin  is  clear 
enough.  To  early  man,  fire 
was  a  thing  very  mysterious 
and  very  necessary.  Before 
the  discovery  of  flint  and 
steel  it  was  no  trifling  matter 
to  kindle  a  new  blaze  by 
rubbing  together  a  hard  stick 
and  a  soft;  every  village,  therefore,  maintained  a  central 
hearth  (focus)  where  some  brands  were  ever  smoldering  and 
whither  a  boy  could  be  sent  running  for  a  spark  to  replenish 
the  kitchen  fires. 

But  beyond  all  other  peoples  the  old  Latins  made  of  this 
homely  need  a  sacrosanct  institution  and  a  ritual.  The 
Temple  of  the  Fire  Goddess  was  perhaps  at  first  only  the 
hearth  of  the  king,  and  her  priestesses  were  the  king's  own 
daughters.  Then  the  king  disappeared :  the  Pontifex  Maxi- 
mus  took  his  place;  and  quite  naturally  just  as  the  high 


The  Roman  Religion  431 

pontiff's  official  residence,  the  Regia,  stood  on  the  verge  of 
the  Forum,  the  Shrine  of  Vesta  and  the  home  of  her  maiden 
ministers  stood  close  beside  it. 

All  across  the  ages  this  fire  of  Vesta  has  burned,  tended  with 
inconceivable  care ;  and  for  this  humble  shrine  of  Vesta  and 
the  six  Vestal  Virgins  all  Romans  from  Emperor  to  lowest 
plebeian  still  retain  more  genuine  reverence  than  for  any  thing 
else  in  the  world,  not  excluding  the  gilded  Temple  of  Jupiter 
Optimus  Maximus  crowning  the  Capitol  and  its  pompous 
Flamen  Dialis. 

366.  The  Temple  of  Vesta  and  the  House  of  the  Vestals. 
—  The  Temple  of  Vesta,  directly  on  the  verge  of  the  roaring 
Forum  and  under  the  shadow  of  the  Imperial  Palatine,  is  an 
ostentatiously  small,  simple  building,  with  a  circular  portico 
of  pillars  and  surmounted  with  a  low  cupola  covered  with 
sheets  of  metal.  Often  repaired,  great  pains  have  been  taken 
(so  Ovid  tells  us)  to  preserve  the  original  "  style  of  Numa." 
Directly  behind  it,  as  you  go  east  from  the  Forum,  is  the 
Atrium  Vesta,  the  House  of  the  Vestals,  noticed  when  we 
traversed  the  Heart  of  Rome. 

Very  simple  externally,  once  inside  those  privileged  to 
enter  the  House  discover  not  merely  a  fine  comfortable  dwell- 
ing, suitable  for  ladies  of  rank  and  their  numerous  female 
attendants,  but  a  very  beautiful  garden  some  200  feet  long  by 
65  wide.  There  are  spreading  trees,  winding  paths,  marble 
seats,  fountains  and  even  a  tiny  grove  —  all  within  easy 
stone's  throw  of  the  very  center  of  the  metropolis. 

The  need  for  this  garden,  however,  is  obvious.  The  Ves- 
tals are  women  of  the  very  highest  rank,  yet  they  cannot  leave 
Rome  in  the  hot  season  when  nearly  all  other  noble  ladies 
flee  to  their  cool  villas.  The  garden  is  their  breathing  spot 
and  their  recompense.  Around  the  garden  runs  a  line  of 
statues  of  the  Maxima  (Senior  Vestals),  an  imposing  array 
of  dignified  elderly  women  of  die  grave  Roman  type.  Here 

432  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

too  in  the  Atrium  Vestse,  in  a  little  room,  is  a  small  hand- 
mill  where  the  sacred  virgins  themselves  can  be  seen  each  day 
laboriously  grinding  the  consecrated  meal  required  in  the 
cult  of  the  Hearth  Goddess. 

Within  this  house  also  the  six  Sisters  spend  their  lives  in  a 
routine  of  holy  duties,  and  although  the  building  is  not  an 
officially  consecrated  "  temple  "  it  is  really  the  most  revered 
and  sacrosanct  spot  in  Rome.  In  the  Atrium  Vestee,  there- 
fore, are  deposited  the  wills  and  other  precious  documents 
of  half  the  nobility,  and  the  gods  pity  the  wretch  who  may 
do  the  place  violence,  —  his  fate  at  human  hands  will  be 
awful ! 

366.  Appointment  of  Vestals.  —  This  little  sisterhood  is 
divided  always  into  three  categories  —  the  novices,  the 
active  members,  the  senior  Vestals,  of  two  members  each. 
When  there  is  a  vacancy  the  Pontifex  Maximus  makes  choice 
among  the  girls  of  between  six  and  ten  years  in  the  patrician 
families,1  who  have  both  of  their  parents  living  and  happily 
married.  A  girl  has  to  be  physically  perfect  and  intellectually 
acute,  certain,  in  short,  to  do  honor  to  the  greatest  position 
open  to  women  in  Rome. 

The  present  Maxima  is  Salvia,  a  distant  kinswoman  of  the 
late  Emperor  Nerva.  She  was  appointed  many  years  ago  in 
the  reign  of  Titus.  There  was  such  competition  for  the 
vacancy  then  that  several  noble  families  offered  their  daugh- 
ters, but  Salvia  was  chosen  because  her  parents  were  on  the 
best  of  terms,  whereas  her  nearest' rival's  father  and  mother 
were  known  to  have  quarreled.  The  high  pontiff  (Titus) 
solemnly  took  her  by  the  hand  repeating  the  ritualistic  words, 
"  I  take  you  to  be  '  Amata/  that  as  Vestal  Virgin  you  may 
perform  the  sacred  rites  lawful  for  vestal  virgins/'  The 

1  This  qualification  of  patrician  birth  was  sometimes  waived  under  the 
Empire,  when  genuine  old-line  patricians  had  become  extremely  few,  but 
great  pains  were  taken  as  to  all  the  other  requirements. 

The  Roman  Religion  433 

title  of  Amata  was  simply  honorary.  It  implied  the  gentle 
and  loving  character  of  the  service  of  Vesta. 

Salvia  was  immediately  led  over  to  the  house  of  Vesta,  her 
hair  was  cut  off,  and  hung  upon  the  sacred  lotus-tree  in  the 
garden ;  she  was  clothed  in  long  white  garments  with  a  special 
white  band  around  her  head,  the  holy  infula;  and  next  she 
took  oath  to  abide  in  her  office  and  to  maintain  her  virginity 
not  less  than  thirty  years.  She  was  now  a  lawful  vestal, 
withdrawn  from  the  power  of  her  father,  and  subject  only  to 
the  jurisdiction  of  the  Pontifex  Maximus. 

367.  Duties  of  the  Vestals :  the  Maxima.  —  The  six  ves- 
tals enjoy  no  sinecure.  From  the  fountain  of  Egeria  by  the 
Coelian  Hill  they  must  bear  all  the  water  required  for  knead- 
ing their  sacred  cakes.1  Daily  they  must  carefully  cleanse 
the  actual  Temple  in  front  of  their  mansion  with  a  mop,  and 
deck  it  around  with  laurel.  There  are  various  great  festivals 
in  which  they  have  to  play  an  important  part,  especially  in 
the  very  important  Vestalia  held  June  9th,  when  all  Rome 
unites  to  honor  the  beloved  Hearth  Mother;  and  on  June 
15th  when  there  is  the  official  cleansing  of  the  Temple,  and 
all  the  refuse  of  the  year  is  collected  and  removed  with 
scrupulous  ceremonies  just  as  a  good  farmer  should  cleanse 
his  barns  before  the  harvest. 

The  chief  duty  is,  however,  the  simple  and  gracious  task 
of  tending  the  sacred  fire.  For  the  first  ten  years  of  her  sis- 
terhood Salvia  was  learning  her  responsibilities  in  this  all- 
important  particular ;  for  the  next  ten,  she,  or  her  associated 
second-class  Vestal,  had  the  actual  watch-care  of  the  holy 
flame  on  the  maintenance  whereof  seemed  to  rest  the  pros- 
perity of  Rome ;  after  that  as  one  of  the  two  senior  Vestals 
she  could  turn  over  to  her  juniors  the  active  duties,  confining 

1  Alone  of  all  the  important  buildings  in  Rome,  the  Atrium  Vestse  had 
no  piped  water-supply ;  everything  had  to  be  borne  in  by  the  vestals  or 
(for  non-religious  purposes)  by  their  numerous  attendants. 

434  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

herself  to  the  general  oversight  of  the  sisterhood,  When 
the  older  senior  Vestal  died  she  herself  became  Maxima  — 
the  most  important  woman  in  Rome,  enjoying  a  reverence 
and  a  certainty  of  tenure  by  no  means  shared  by  every  Em- 

368.  Punishments  of  Erring  Vestals.  —  To  allow  the 
sacred  fire  to  go  out,  by  some  fearful  mischance,  is  an  almost 
unheard-of  calamity.  The  ancient  books  ordain  that  the 
responsible  Vestal  on  duty  shall  first  be  stripped  and  scourged 
by  the  Pontifex  Maximus,  administering  his  blows  in  the 
dark,  then  two  pieces  of  wood  must  be  taken  from  a 
"  lucky  tree  "  and  he  must  laboriously  rekindle  the  fire  with 
elaborate  ceremonies.  After  that  other  prolonged  rites  are 
needful  to  save  the  state  from  the  results  of  such  a  fearful 
"  prodigy." 

Such  lapses  in  the  service  of  Vesta  almost  never  occur. 
Slightly  more  frequent  have  been  charges  of  breaking  the 
vow  of  chastity.  In  the  few  recorded  cases  the  guilty  sister 
after  trial  before  the  college  of  pontiffs  has  been  buried  alive 
with  a  kind  of  funeral  ceremony  in  the  "  Accursed  Field  " 
(Campus  Sceleratus)  just  within  the  Colline  Gate.  It  is 
"  bad  luck*"  actually  to  put  to  death  a  consecrated  Vestal, 
but  a  deep  pit  is  dug  and  in  it  are  placed  a  couch,  a  lamp,  and 
a  table  bearing  a  little  food.  Then  the  guilty  woman  is 
lowered  into  the  pit  and  earth  heaped  upon  it.  She  has 
simply  been  dismissed  from  the  presence  of  men :  —  what 
occurs  out  of  all  human  sight  is  strictly  the  affair  of  gods ! 
Meantime  her  paramour  has  been  publicly  scourged  to  death 
in  the  Forum  with  every  form  of  ignominy. 

The  vow  of  virginity,  nevertheless,  is  not  perpetual.  After 
thirty  years  in  the  service,  at  an  age  still  far  below  old  woman- 
hood, a  Vestal  can  quit  the  Atrium,  and  marry ;  but  Salvia 
and  her  sisters  seldom  dream  of  such  a  thing.  Public  opin- 
ion, though  not  the  law,  frowns  upon  the  act,  and  it  means 

The  Roman  Religion  435 

resigning  a  position  of  incomparable  importance,  honor,  and 

369.  Remarkable  Honors  Granted  the  Vestals.  —  If  Sal- 
via,  for  twenty  years  at  least,  has  thus  taken  her  duties  very 
seriously,  she  has  her  great  compensation.  The  Vestal 
Sisterhood  is  rich  with  a  great  corporate  income.  The  mem- 
bers alone  of  all  Romans  give  their  testimony  in  court  with- 
out the  least  oath.  They  have  the  seats  of  honor  at  all  public 
games  and  festivals.  A  lictor  precedes  each  of  them  every- 
where, securing  for  his  mistress  the  same  public  honors 
granted  a  magistrate,  and  a  magistrate's  lictors  lower  their 
fasces  in  respectful  homage  when  in  a  Vestal's  superior 

The  slightest  molestation  of  these  priestesses'  persons  is  of 
course  punished  capitally.  They  have  the  right  to  intercede 
even  with  the  Emperor  in  matter  of  pardons,  and  they  nom- 
inate to  sundry  public  offices  —  e.g.  the  librarianship  of  the 
Imperial  library,  and  certain  military  tribuneships.  Finally 
if  they  chance  accidentally  to  meet  a  criminal  bound  for  exe- 
cution, upon  their  demand  he  must  be  spared  and  released  — 
not  out  of  motives  of  mercy,  but  because  it  is  a  bad  omen  for 
the  State  for  any  holy  Vestal  to  meet  a  person  formally 
condemned  to  die.1 

One  crowning  honor  also  Salvia  can  anticipate:  even 
Emperors  must  ordinarily  be  buried  outside  the  consecrated 
city  limits  (pomerium),  but  the  law  specifically  admits 
Vestals  not  merely  to  the  glories  of  a  public  funeral,  but  to 
burial  inside  the  Heart  of  Home  itself.  What  wonder  that 
Salvia  is  loath  to  quit  a  post  of  such  glory  and  power  for  the 
uncertain  prospects  of  matrimony ! 

Despite  all  the  ceremonies,  irrational  and  vain  though  they 

1  This  did  not  prevent  Vestals  from  attending  the  arena  spectacles. 
The  gladiators  and  persons  thrown  to  the  beasts  had  in  theory  a  chance 
for  life. 

436  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

may  seem  to  a  later  standpoint,  the  worship  of  Vesta,  the 
goddess  of  the  honest  home,  and  the  corporate  life  of  her  six 
maiden  ministers  remain  among  the  fairest  things  of  the 
Roman  Empire.  Matters  cannot  be  hopelessly  bad,  when 
thus,  in  the  center  of  the  great,  luxurious,  sensual  Imperial 
city,  womanly  purity  and  orderly  virtue  are  preeminently 



370.  Saturnalia :  the  Exchange  of  Presents  on  New  Year's 
Day.  —  Could  our  visit  to  Rome  be  prolonged  across  the 
year  we  should  dwell  on  such  so-called  religious  festivals  as 
the  Saturnalia  which  lasts  seven  days,  beginning  the  17th  of 
December,  when  the  whole  city  abandons  itself  to  carnival 
mirth,  when  slaves  for  a  brief  and  happy  interval  put  on  the 
tall  pileus,  the  liberty  cap,  are  allowed  to  be  very  pert  to 
their  masters,  and  indulge  in  all  kinds  of  pranks  and  liberties ; 
and  when  people  exchange  with  all  their  friends  semi-comic 
gifts  of  wax  tapers  and  amusing  little  terra-cotta  images,  or 
other  gifts  of  real  value  such  as  napkins,  writing  tablets,  and 
dishes  of  preserved  sweetmeats.1 

More  decorous  is  the  ensuing  holiday  on  the  Kalends  of 
January  (New  Year's  Day)  when  ceremonious  official  calls 
are  paid  on  every  magnate  from  the  Emperor  downward,  and 
more  gifts  are  exchanged,  often  of  the  highest  value.2  In 
these  festivities  and  distributions  of  presents  can  perhaps  be 
found  the  prototypes  for  the  winter  holidays  of  another 
religion  and  later  age. 

371.  Multiplication  of  Oriental   Cults.  —  One   dare  not 
quit  the  Rome  of  Hadrian,  however,  without  a  cursory  in- 
spection of  something  extremely  evident  since  we  began  our 

1  It  was  quite  proper  to  play  "April  Fool'*  jokes  at  the  Saturnalia: 
e.g.  to  present  what  seemed  a  platter  of  delicious  food  when  all  the  viands 
were  actually  of  clay. 

*  Substantially  on  the  scale  of  "Christmas  presents." 


438  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

explorations  on  plebeian  Mercury  Street  —  the  foreign  re- 
ligions and  their  temples. 

Very  reluctantly  did  the  grave  fathers  of  the  old  Republic 
admit  Anatolian,  Syrian,  and  Egyptian  cults  into  their  be- 
loved city.  Even  unlicensed  Greek  ceremonies  were  frowned 
upon  and  the  disorderly  orgiastic  rites  of  the  Eastern  gods 
for  long  were  extremely  repulsive  to  the  dignified  builders  of 
the  Commonwealth.  But  as  the  Republic  declined  the  for- 
eign cults  thrust  themselves  in  and  with  the  coining  of  the 
Empire  all  attempts  to  prohibit  them  practically  disappeared. 
The  most  the  authorities  can  now  do  is  to  see  that  these 
strange  private  worships  are  conducted  with  a  certain  degree 
of  decency.  Rome  has  never  countenanced  the  vile  revel- 
ings  of  the  groves  of  Syrian  Astarte,  much  less  the  horrid 
child-burnings  of  the  Phoenician  Moloch. 

The  votaries  of  these  Eastern  gods  are  not  merely  Orientals 
who  have  drifted  to  Rome.  The  new  religions  have  a  great 
appeal  to  many  persons  of  good  old  Latin  stock  and  especially 
to  the  women.  The  reason  for  this  is  fairly  obvious :  the 
Roman  official  religion  is  a  legalistic  religion  devoid  of  the 
slightest  spirituality.  "  Sin  "  except  in  the  sense  of  reckless 
contract  breaking,  "  communion  with  God,"  "  reconciliation 
with  God,"  "The  Hereafter,"  "Life  Eternal,"  and  like 
phrases  are  utterly  unknown  to  pontiff,  augur,  or  flamen. 

For  intelligent  persons  to  whom  neither  the  Stoic  nor  the 
Epicurean  guesses  at  the  riddle  of  existence  prove  satisfying, 
who  are  torn  hi  conscience,  bowed  with  bereavement,  or 
crushed  by  disaster,  there  must  be  some  outlet  better  than 
that  of  scrupulously  offering  a  black  pig  to  Mars.  Atheism 
can  never  satisfy  for  long,  —  and  the  Oriental  religions,  ap- 
pealing at  once  to  the  love  for  the  mysterious,  and  to  the 
passionate  desire  for  some  supernatural  explanation  of  the 
problems  of  humanity,  as  a  result  draw  in  then-  votaries  by 
thousands.  Some  of  these  worshipers  are  utterly  ignorant 

Foreign  Cults  439 

and  credulous.  Others  are  men  and  women  of  wealth  and 
deep  learning,  who  can  turn  the  Syrian  or  Egyptian  jargon 
into  elegant  Platonic  myths,  and  see,  behind  the  coarse 
Levantine  ritual,  spiritual  allegories  which  would  have 
astonished  old  Memphis  or  Tyre. 

372.  The  Cult  of  the  Deified  Emperors.  —  The  Imperial 
Government  itself  has  added  to  this  tendency  to  multiply 
cults  —  it  created  a  new  and  a  very  important  one,  that  of 
the  "  Deified  Emperors."  Augustus  Caesar  was  far  too 
shrewd  and  matter-of-fact  an  Italian  to  permit  himself  to 
be  worshiped  as  an  actual  deity  within  his  native  land ;  but 
he  did  not  discourage  Orientals  (accustomed  to  adore  almost 
any  successful  monarch  as  a  "  god  ")  from  setting  up  altars 
to  him,  and  he  took  a  great  satisfaction  in  having  his  adoptive 
father  Julius  Caesar  officially  deified  at  Rome,  and  then  in 
accepting  for  himself  the  glories  coming  to  the  son  of  the 
"  Divine  Julius." 

Furthermore,  even  a  living  Emperor  has  his  genius  —  his 
special  guardian  spirit,  often  to  be  half-confounded  with  his 
own  personality.  The  worship  of  Augustus's  genius  was 
soon  an  important  part  of  the  state  religion.  Oaths  were 
taken  by  it;  an  insult  to  it  became  the  vilest  blasphemy. 
If  Augustus  did  not  become  a  god  in  his  lifetime,  the  aura 
and  effluence  of  divinity  assuredly  played  all  around  him. 

373.   The  "Divine  Augustus"   and  His   Successors.— 

The  instant  Augustus  died  a  solemn  decree  of  the  Senate 
forthwith  made  him  "  Divus  Augustus,"  with  temples, 
priests,  and  ritual  —  all  the  paraphernalia  in  short  of  a  promi- 
nent member  of  the  Pantheon.  Since  then  in  the  provincial 
towns  the  priests  of  Augustus,  Augustdes,  are  ordinarily 
appointed  from  among  the  rich  freedmen  —  men  of  short 
lineage  but  of  great  economic  influence,  who  are  delighted 
at  the  trappings  and  pompous  honors  awarded  this  holy 

436  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

may  seem  to  a  later  standpoint,  the  worship  of  Vesta,  the 
goddess  of  the  honest  home,  and  the  corporate  life  of  her  six 
maiden  ministers  remain  among  the  fairest  things  of  the 
Roman  Empire.  Matters  cannot  be  hopelessly  bad,  when 
thus,  in  the  center  of  the  great,  luxurious,  sensual  Imperial 
city,  womanly  purity  and  orderly  virtue  are  preeminently 



370.  Saturnalia :  the  Exchange  of  Presents  on  New  Year's 
Day.  —  Could  our  visit  to  Rome  be  prolonged  across  the 
year  we  should  dwell  on  such  so-called  religious  festivals  as 
the  Saturnalia  which  lasts  seven  days,  beginning  the  17th  of 
December,  when  the  whole  city  abandons  itself  to  carnival 
mirth,  when  slaves  for  a  brief  and  happy  interval  put  on  the 
tall  pileus^  the  liberty  cap,  are  allowed  to  be  very  pert  to 
their  masters,  and  indulge  in  all  kinds  of  pranks  and  liberties ; 
and  when  people  exchange  with  ail  their  friends  semi-comic 
gifts  of  wax  tapers  and  amusing  little  terra-cotta  images,  or 
other  gifts  of  real  value  such  as  napkins,  writing  tablets,  and 
dishes  of  preserved  sweetmeats.1 

More  decorous  is  the  ensuing  holiday  on  the  Kalends  of 
January  (New  Year's  Day)  when  ceremonious  official  calls 
are  paid  on  every  magnate  from  the  Emperor  downward,  and 
more  gifts  are  exchanged,  often  of  the  highest  value.2  In 
these  festivities  and  distributions  of  presents  can  perhaps  be 
found  the  prototypes  for  the  winter  holidays  of  another 
religion  and  later  age. 

371.  Multiplication  of   Oriental   Cults.  —  One   dare   not 
quit  the  Rome  of  Hadrian,  however,  without  a  cursory  in- 
spection of  something  extremely  evident  since  we  began  our 

1  It  was  quite  proper  to  play  *' April  Fool"  jokes  at  the  Saturnalia: 
e.Q.  to  present  what  seemed  a  platter  of  delicious  food  when  all  the  viands 
were  actually  of  clay. 

1  Substantially  on  the  scale  of  *'  Christmas  presents." 


438  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

explorations  on  plebeian  Mercury  Street  —  the  foreign  re- 
ligions and  their  temples. 

Very  reluctantly  did  the  grave  fathers  of  the  old  Republic 
admit  Anatolian,  Syrian,  and  Egyptian  cults  into  their  be- 
loved city.  Even  unlicensed  Greek  ceremonies  were  frowned 
upon  and  the  disorderly  orgiastic  rites  of  the  Eastern  gods 
for  long  were  extremely  repulsive  to  the  dignified  builders  of 
the  Commonwealth.  But  as  the  Republic  declined  the  for* 
eign  cults  thrust  themselves  in  and  with  the  coming  of  the 
Empire  all  attempts  to  prohibit  them  practically  disappeared. 
The  most  the  authorities  can  now  do  is  to  see  that  these 
strange  private  worships  are  conducted  with  a  certain  degree 
of  decency.  Rome  has  never  countenanced  the  vile  revel- 
ings  of  the  groves  of  Syrian  Astarte,  much  less  the  horrid 
child-burnings  of  the  Phoenician  Moloch. 

The  votaries  of  these  Eastern  gods  are  not  merely  Orientals 
who  have  drifted  to  Rome.  The  new  religions  have  a  great 
appeal  to  many  persons  of  good  old  Latin  stock  and  especially 
to  the  women.  The  reason  for  this  is  fairly  obvious :  the 
Roman  official  religion  is  a  legalistic  religion  devoid  of  the 
slightest  spirituality.  "  Sin  "  except  in  the  sense  of  reckless 
contract  breaking,  "  communion  with  God,"  "  reconciliation 
with  God,"  "The  Hereafter,"  "Life  Eternal,"  and  like 
phrases  are  utterly  unknown  to  pontiff,  augur,  or  flamen. 

For  intelligent  persons  to  whom  neither  the  Stoic  nor  the 
Epicurean  guesses  at  the  riddle  of  existence  prove  satisfying, 
who  are  torn  hi  conscience,  bowed  with  bereavement,  or 
crushed  by  disaster,  there  must  be  some  outlet  better  than 
that  of  scrupulously  offering  a  black  pig  to  Mars.  Atheism 
can  never  satisfy  for  long,  —  and  the  Oriental  religions,  ap- 
pealing at  once  to  the  love  for  the  mysterious,  and  to  the 
passionate  desire  for  some  supernatural  explanation  of  the 
problems  of  humanity,  as  a  result  draw  in  their  votaries  by 
thousands.  Some  of  these  worshipers  are  utterly  ignorant 

Foreign  Cults  439 

and  credulous.  Others  are  men  and  women  of  wealth  and 
deep  learning,  who  can  turn  the  Syrian  or  Egyptian  jargon 
into  elegant  Platonic  myths,  and  see,  behind  the  coarse 
Levantine  ritual,  spiritual  allegories  which  would  have 
astonished  old  Memphis  or  Tyre. 

372.  The  Cult  of  the  Deified  Emperors.  —  The  Imperial 
Government  itself  has  added  to  this  tendency  to  multiply 
cults  —  it  created  a  new  and  a  very  important  one,  that  of 
the   "  Deified  Emperors."    Augustus   Caesar  was   far  too 
shrewd  and  matter-of-fact  an  Italian  to  permit  himself  to 
be  worshiped  as  an  actual  deity  within  his  native  land ;  but 
he  did  not  discourage  Orientals  (accustomed  to  adore  almost 
any  successful  monarch  as  a  "  god  ")  from  setting  up  altars 
to  him,  and  he  took  a  great  satisfaction  in  having  his  adoptive 
father  Julius  Caesar  officially  deified  at  Rome,  and  then  in 
accepting  for  himself  the  glories  coming  to  the  son  of  the 
"  Divine  Julius." 

Furthermore,  even  a  living  Emperor  has  his  genius  —  his 
special  guardian  spirit,  often  to  be  half-confounded  with  his 
own  personality.  The  worship  of  Augustus's  genius  was 
soon  an  important  part  of  the  state  religion.  Oaths  were 
taken  by  it;  an  insult  to  it  became  the  vilest  blasphemy. 
If  Augustus  did  not  become  a  god  in  his  lifetime,  the  aura 
and  effluence  of  divinity  assuredly  played  all  around  him. 

373.  The  "Divine  Augustus"  and  His   Successors.— 

The  instant  Augustus  died  a  solemn  decree  of  the  Senate 
forthwith  made  him  "  Divus  Augustus,"  with  temples, 
priests,  and  ritual  —  all  the  paraphernalia  in  short  of  a  promi- 
nent member  of  the  Pantheon.  Since  then  in  the  provincial 
towns  the  priests  of  Augustus,  Augustales,  are  ordinarily 
appointed  from  among  the  rich  freedmen  —  men  of  short 
lineage  but  of  great  economic  influence,  who  are  delighted 
at  the  trappings  and  pompous  honors  awarded  this  holy 

440  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

office,  and  who  become,  therefore,  the  ardent  supporters  of 
the  imperial  regime. 

Since  14  AJ>.  there  have  been  still  other  gods  thus  enrolled 
by  vote  of  the  Senate  —  notably  the  "Divine  Claudius** 
("  dragged  to  heaven  by  a  hook,"  people  saicasticaDy  re- 
mark, remembering  Agrippina's  poisoned  mushrooms),  and 
Hie  equally  a  divine  "  Vespasian,  Htus,  Nerva,  aad  Trajan. 
Their  temples  and  cults  are  among  the  most  splendid  and 
prominent  in  Rome.  In  the  basilicas  and  in  the  govern- 
ment houses  (pr&toria)  and  magistrates*  halls  all  over  the 
Empire  stand  the  arrays  of  statues  of  these  Deified  August! 
along  with  that  of  the  "  genius  "  of  the  reigning  Hadrian 
himself.  Every  litigant  and  every  witness  must  cast  his 
pinch  of  incense  into  the  brazier  before  them  and  swear  by 
their  godhead. 

Intelligent  men,  of  course,  understand  that  these  Imperial 
"gods"  somehow  differ  in  nature  from  Jupiter,  but  the 
homage  offered  to  them  seems  really  an  affirmation  of  loyalty 
to  the  great  principles  of  law  and  order  which  bind  the  vast 
Empire  together.  Every  good  Emperor  is  entitled  to  expect 
this  honor,  after  a  worthy  reign.  "  I  think  I'm  becoming  a 
god  I  "  muttered  the  pragmatic  Vespasian  while  on  his  death- 
bed. On  the  other  hand  the  refusal  of  deification  is  a  form 
of  branding  a  tyrant's  memory;  and  Tiberius,  Caligula, 
Nero,  and  Domitian  receive  no  incense.1 

The  state  thus  teaches  all  its  subjects  how  easily  new  deities 
can  be  introduced  —  apparently  by  very  human  agencies. 
Of  the  host  of  Oriental  gods  that  have  thrust  themselves  into 
Rome  there  are  three  or  four  which  have  won  peculiar  promi- 
nence; notably  the  cults  of  Cybele,  Isis  and  Serapis,  and 

1  Owing  to  rough  dealings  with  the  Senate,  Hadrian  himself  came  near 
missing  deification,  but  Antoninus  won  his  title  of  "Pius"  by  his  zeal 
for  vindicating  his  adoptive  father's  memory.  Antoninus  Pius  himself 
and  Marcus  Aurelius  after  him  were,  of  course,  promptly  deified. 

Foreign  Cults 

Mithras.    Hiere  is  also  tfae  extemely  demised  sect  «rf  the 

Tfee  Crft  *rf  €yfedfee,  ifiie  ^{Smat  Muftwsr.™  —  Tiie 
cult  df  Cyfoele  is  Ae  didest  and  t»est  Txsmgswel  df  Ais  for- 
group-  C/yiaete  is  am  Italic  ^owMess  wMh  iisr  noosit 
temple  ait  Fessinats  in  Gaiatia.  In  ifiue  oias  df  tiie 
War  nvheoa  pdb&c  apanicfli  mas  on.  edge,  1ibe 
Masixaass  f  efcdfoed  am  in^ge  df  ItMs  "  O^reat  Modier  /of  Pes- 

sinus  "  to  E^oaaice  mud  act  up  a  tonple  to  Iber  mi  the 
Hie  Hassan 

f  ortK,  Loawred  IMT  witii  tlie 
df  the 

Great  Modaer,  despite 

niniifw^&m^^m^  refcains 
thii^  about  it  ttiat  is 


«9^piastie    JOM!   am- 
Ewtywiaeie   oi^esr 
the  city  can  be  met  groups 

OI  fi^y  iypM^S"t^SSff?S|  T*^^  \jtKTV'" 

bantes,  and  especially  csf  her 

smooth-diedbed,     squeaky- 

voiced  eunach  priests,  the  GaBl,  executing  their  wild,  noisy 

dances  with  drums,  cymbals,  and  trumpets,  and  leaping  about 

in  suits  of  armor  which  they  dash  violently,  while  uttering 

screams  alleged  to  be  inspired. 

In  the  country  districts  bands  of  these  Galli  are  reported 
to  drift  frequently  from  village  to  village,  exciting  the  rustics 
by  displays  of  "  mysteries  "  which  are  simply  a  gross  hocus- 
pocus,  and  which  often  wind  up  in  scenes  of  sheer  depravity. 
Nevertheless,  the  cult  has  great  attractions  for  the  super- 
stitious. The  processions  of  these  effeminate  figures  with 
redolent  locks,  painted  faces,  and  soft  womanish  bearing 
are  always  able  to  wheedle  the  sesterces  out  of  the  crowd. 


A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

The  coarse  legends  of  the  Great  Mother  are  furthermore 
caught  up  by  the  philosophers  and  given  a  refined,  meta- 
pfcysical  meaning,  and  among  the  priests  at  her  temples  about 
the  city  are  enrolled  many  senators  and  equites,  and  among 
the  priestesses  a  good  many  more  of  these  noblemen's  wives. 
To  be  a  chanter,  drummer,  or  cymbal  player  at  her  great 
spectacular  "  orgies  "  has  a  morbid  fascination  —  all  the 


more  because  much  of  the  cult  of  Cybele  worship  is  so  gross 
that  words  may  not  describe  it.  The  Great  Mother  is,  there- 
fore, one  of  the  most  undesirable  of  all  the  gifts  offered  to 
Rome  by  the  conquered  East. 

375.  Cult  of  Isis  and  Associated  Egyptian  Gods.  —  Wor- 
thier and  more  popular  with  the  better  classes  is  the  worship 
of  Isis. 

The  Egyptian  story  of  Isis  and  Osiris,  of  the  temporary 
death  of  the  latter  and  the  sufferings  of  the  former,  a  story 
that  connected  itself  with  the  Greek  myths  about  Demeter 

Foreign  Cults  443 

and  Dionysus,  and  also  those  about  Adonis,  had  become  very 
old  a  thousand  years  before  the  founding  of  Rome.  The  cult 
was  a  late  invader  of  Italy ;  not  until  the  time  of  Sulla  did  it 
figure  even  as  an  important  private  superstition,  and  on  ac- 
count of  the  marked  Oriental  tendencies  of  the  Isis  worship 
the  Senate  for  long  discouraged  it ;  nevertheless  the  stately 
ritual  and  the  appeal  of  the  mysterious  made  the  cult  ex- 
tremely popular  with  the  multitude. 

In  vain  in  50  B.C.  the  consul  Lucius  ^Emilius  himself  (his 
superstitious  lictors  hesitating)  struck  the  first  blow  with  the 
ax  to  demolish  a  prohibited  Isis  temple.  Augustus  had  to 
content  himself  merely  with  forbidding  the  erection  of  such 
buildings  within  the  oificial  pomerium  of  Rome,  but  these 
could  multiply  in  the  suburbs,  and  by  the  time  of  Vespasian 
practically  all  restraints  disappeared. 

Everybody  now  frequents  the  shrines  of  Isis,  and  many  of 
the  noblest  citizens  and  matrons  are  among  her  initiates. 
Her  great  temple  in  the  Campius  Martius  is  among  the 
stateliest  in  Rome  and  every  morning  before  its  doors  are 
arrayed  a  perfect  host  of  votaries. 

376.  Ceremonies  at  an  Isis  Temple.  —  If  we  desire,  it  is 
easy  to  witness  a  large  part  of  the  ritual,  although  the  mean- 
ing of  the  allegories  is  refused  the  unelect.1  Before  day- 
break the  shaven-skulled  priests,  clothed  in  trailing  robes 
of  snow-white  linen,  enter  the  temple  by  a  side  entrance  and 
throw  back  the  great  central  doors,  although  a  long  white 
curtain  still  hangs  across  the  interior.  The  multitude  of  the 
devout  now  stream  into  the  temple.  The  curtains  whisk 
aside,  and  a  statue  of  the  goddess,  a  majestic  female  sculp- 
tured somewhat  in  the  Egyptian  style,  with  her  head  crowned 

1  Much  of  what  we  know  of  these  cults  of  the  pagan  Orient  cornea  from 
early  Christian  writers  who  have  no  hesitation  in  betraying  the  "  Mys- 
teries/' but  whose  statements  naturally  are  often  biased  and  very  incom- 

444  A  Day  in  Old  Borne 

with  a  lotos  flower  and  in  her  right  hand  &  holy  rattle  (m- 
Iraaa),  is  exposed  to  view.  At  her  side  stands  her  son 
Horns,  a  naked  boy,  holding  his  forefinger  in  his  month,  a 
lotus  flower  also  upon  his  head,  and  a  horn  of  plenty  in  his 
left  hand 

The  worshipers  now  stand  or  sit  on  the  stones  for  a  fong 
time  m  silent  prayer  and  ccHitemplalion;  while  tihe  new 
fight  of  the  rising  son  streams  athwart  the  silent  columns 
and  draperies  of  the  gifcat  temple.  f*resendy  a  poest 
appears  bearing  a  golden  vessel  «rf  holy  water  from  tie 
Nile,  and  he  poors  it  over  a  sacrifice  of  fruits  and  flowers 
upon  the  altar  standing  before  the  images.  The  worshipers 
all  prostrate  themselves  in  awe,  then  rise.  Hie  ceremony 

This  is  the  ordinary  side  of  the  Isis  worship  but  at  times 
there  lack  not  violent  dances;  processions  of  all  manner  of 
harlequin  participants,  men  itobed  as  soldiers,  hunters,  or 
gladiators,  women  leaping  in  white  gauzy  garments,  and 
shaven  priests  bearing  haoly  vessels  —  usually  wrought  with 
Egyptian  hieroglyphics,  and  carrying  especially  as  center  ©f 
afl  the  tumult  a  sacred  snake,  lifting  its  wrinkled  and  venom- 
ous head  upon  an  ark  of  burnished  gold. 

The  Isis  worship  appeals  often  to  men  of  high  intelligence 
who  grow  weary  and  disgusted  at  the  failure  of  secular  phi- 
losophy to  solve  the  great  problems  of  existence.  An  elab- 
orate explanation  exists  for  all  these  symbols;  one  might 
even  add  a  spiritual  meaning.  It  is  even  claimed  that  Isis 
is  simply  "  Nature,"  and  that  her  cult  is  merely  the  worthiest 
expression  of  "  the  One  Sole  Divinity  whom  the  whole  earth 
venerates  under  a  manifold  form." 

To  the  initiates  (into  whose  esoteric  lore  we  cannot  pene- 
trate) is  promised  in  this  world  a  very  fortunate  life  and  that 
then  "  having  accomplished  the  span  of  this  existence,  they 
shall  descend  to  the  realms  below,  and  even  there,  dwelling 

Foreign  Cults  445 

as  they  shall  in  the  Elysian  fields,  they  shall  frequently  adore 
me  —  the  goddess."  * 

377.  Cult  of  Scraps  and  of  Other  Oriental  Gods.  —  The 
Isis  worship  thus  has  its  nobler  side,    Not  unworthy  too  is 
that  of  her  Graeco-Egyptian  associate  Serapis,  the  patron 
deity  of  Alexandria,  who  has  a  considerable  foiowing  in.  Borne, 
acclaiming  Mm  as  "  lord  of  all  the  elements,  dispenser  of  all 
good  and  master  of  human  life,"    Unfortunately,  however, 
along  with  these  deities  there  goes  a  whole  swarm  of  lesser 
Oriental  divinities  who  do  nothing  but  provide  fine  f*hfrn/H=^ 
for  the  scoffers  and  the  charlatans. 

Hie  priests  of  the  dog-headed  Nile-god  Anubis  are  de- 
nounced by  Juvenal  as  a  "  linen-dad  and  cheating  crew/' 
who  levy  on  sflly  women,  and  who  will  declare  any  infamy  to 
be  morally  "  pardoned  "  for  the  bribe  of  a  fat  goose  or  some 
thick  slices  of  cake.  Korybus,  Sabazius,  the  bull  Apis,  and 
the  Syrian  Baal  cannot  pretend  to  be  better.  Many  a  decent 
Hainan  beholding  their  worship  will  reecho  Plutarch's  recent 
words,  M  Better  mot  to  believe  in  a  god  at  aH,  than  to  cringe 
before  a  god  who  is  worse  than  the  worst  of  men."  Never- 
theless there  is  one  Oriental  cult  now  penetrating  Borne  which 
seems  to  lay  stress  on  moral  purity  and  on  Hoble  living  — 
the  religion  of  Mithras. 

378.  The  Cult  of  Mithras :  Its  Relative  Hobffity.  —  Mith- 
ras is  by  origin  the  Sun  God  of  the  Zoroastrian  Persians.1 
He  is  the  "  fiend  smjter  " ;  the  beneficent  light  which  dis- 
perses mental  as  well  as  material  darkness.    Sol  Invidus  — 
"  The  All-Conquering  Sun  "  —  his  votaries  call  him,  but  in 

1The  quotations  are  from  Apuleius,  "The  Golden  Ass"  (book  XI, 
passim),  and  are  given  at  greater  length  in  the  author's  "Readings  from 
Ancient  History,"  vol.. II  (Rome),  pp.  282-284. 

*  Technically  he  was  the  highest  archangel  tinder  the  one  actual  god 
Ahura-Maida,  but  the  Persian  "magi"  soon  attributed  to  him  practical 


A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

statues  and  pictures  he  is  commonly  represented  as  a  hand- 
some youth,  wearing  the  Phrygian  cap  and  mantle,  and  kneel- 
ing upon  a  bull  which  has  been  thrown  upon  the  ground,  and 
whose  throat  the  god  is  cutting.  In  the  Mithras  pictures 
there  often  appear  also  the  mysterious  figures  of  a  dog,  a 
serpent,  and  a  scorpion,  all  somehow  connected  with  the  ritual 
of  the  god. 

This  cultus  first  passed  from  the  East  to  the  hardy  pirates 
of  Cilicia,  whom  Pompey  the  Great  subdued  in  the  last  years 

of  the  old  Republic. 
Then  gradually  the 
Western  world  began  to 
learn  about  the  Mithras 
"  chapels/'  about  the 
seven  grades  of  initiates, 
about  solemn  purifica- 
tions from  sin,  and 
about  an  esoteric  teach- 
ing which  laid  great 
stress  on  personal  right- 
eousness, condemned 
vicious  pretenses  and 
claimed  to  reconcile  man 
with  god  in  a  manner 
promising  the  former  a  joyous  and  noble  hereafter. 

The  Mithras  cult  is  now  making  its  way  very  rapidly, 
especially  in  the  imperial  army.  All  up  and  down  the  great 
garrison  towns  and  standing  camps  along  the  frontiers 
"  Mithras  chapels  "  are  being  erected,  small  chambers  suitable 
for  only  a  few  dozen  of  initiates.  The  rites  and  teachings 
are  very  secret,  and  it  is  impossible  to  penetrate  them  as  we 
can  part  of  the  worship  of  Isis. 

Mithras  worship  furthermore  makes  no  pretense  of  being 
a  cult  for  the  masses  —  it  is  a  blessing  reserved  strictly  for 


Foreign  Cults 


the  proved  and  purified.  All  we  know  about  it,  however, 
convinces  us  that  its  ethics  are  noble,  that  it  repudiates  all 
coarse  sensuality,  and  that  it  leaves  its  votaries  genuinely 
better  men  and  women,  summoning  them  to  be  coadjutors  of 
the  "  Unconquerable  Sun  "  in  his  glorious  war  against  spirit- 
ual darkness. 

As  yet  the  Mithras  worship  in 
the  West  is  relatively  young,  but 
the  time  will  approach  when  great 
Emperors,  Aurelian  and  Diocle- 
tian, will  proudly  number  them- 
selves among  its  initiates,  and  in 
Mithraism  ancient  paganism  will 
make  its  last  real  proffer  for  the 
allegiance  of  high-minded  men.1 

379.  The  Taurobolium  ("  Bath 
in  Bull's  Blood  ")•  —  Connected 
with  these  Oriental  cults,  worthy 
and  unworthy,  there  has  come  in 
a  ceremony  utterly  strange  to 
the  religion  of  Numa,  which, 
nevertheless,  is  gaining  increas- 
ing vogue,  —  the  Taurobolium. 
Originally  it  belonged  to  the 
votaries  of  Cybele,  but  the  Mithras  worshipers  have  adopted 
it  likewise. 

The  rite  is  supposed  to  give  one  a  peculiar  cleansing  from 
sin,  and  being  decidedly  expensive  appeals  not  a  little  to 

1  Nearly  all  our  evidence  for  Mithraism  is  archaeological ;  we  know 
little  of  either  its  doctrines  or  its  ritual.  Apparently  it  had  a  system  of 
priests  not  unlike  the  Christian  clergy  and  a  ceremony  resembling  the 
Christian  sacrament.  It  owed  its  success  largely  to  the  real  nobility  of 
its  doctrines,  but  could  not  in  the  end  maintain  itself  by  appealing  simply 
to  a  remote  myth,  while  Christianity  was  able  to  appeal  to  a  personal 


448  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

wealthy  personages  who  do  not  mind  showing  how  their 
riches  can  put  them  on  better  terms  with  heaven  than  is 
possible  for  the  run  of  mortals.  With  increasing  frequency 
can  be  seen  tombstones  of  magnates  inscribed  "  Reborn  to 
Eternity  through  the  Taurobolium,"  and  it  is  held  by  many 
that  persons  submitting  to  this  ordeal  are  assured  of  a  happy 
immortality  —  at  least,  if  they  should  die  within  twenty  years 
of  the  ceremony;  after  which  it  can  be  repeated. 

Old  line  Romans  ordinarily  have  not  as  yet  felt  a  great  need 
for  the  Taurobolium,1  but  one  of  Calvus's  acquaintances,  the 
senator  Faventinus,  has  followed  his  initiation  into  Mithra- 
ism  by  celebrating  the  rite.  It  is  indeed  something  which 
only  deep  religious  convictions  can  induce  persons  of  sensitive 
and  luxurious  tastes  to  undergo,  although  the  special  priests 
who  conduct  the  proceeding  know  how  to  render  it  an  im- 
pressive ceremony. 

Faventinus  appeared  at  the  appointed  place  before  a  con- 
course of  Mithraic  initiates,  wearing  a  golden  crown  and 
with  his  toga  tightly  girded  about  him ;  then  he  descended 
into  a  deep  pit  over  which  was  placed  a  platform  of  stout 
boards.  With  mystical  words  and  songs  a  consecrated  bull 
was  led  upon  the  platform  and  there  directly  slaughtered  in 
a  manner  causing  its  blood  to  flow  freely  through  the  chinks 
in  the  timbers  upon  the  worshiper  below.  As  the  blood 
descended  Faventinus  extended  his  arms  and  uplifted  his 
face  that  ad  much  might  cover  him  as  possible. 

When  the  initiate  was  taken  out  —  his  whole  person  and 
garments  blood-soaked  —  other  mysterious  liturgies  were 
recited  over  him.  He  was  now  a  "  Father  "  in  the  Mithraic 
order  —  of  the  highest  class  of  initiates,  purged  of  all  human 

1  Mithras  worship  was  only  beginning  to  be  important  in  the  Age  of 
Hadrian,  and  the  Taurobolium  was  then  still  comparatively  rare ;  by 
200  A.D.  it  had  become  decidedly  common ;  by  300  A.D.  it  was  very  fre- 
quent indeed. 

Foreign  Cults  449 

dross,  and  entitled  to  dose  communion  with  the  deity. 
After  all,  the  price  of  a  fine  bull  and  round  fees  to  the  priests 
seem  little  enough  to  pay  for  such  an  exalted  privilege. 

380.  The  Christians :  Pagan  Account  of  Their  Origin,  — 
There  is  still  another  cult  in  Rome,  although  cultivated  men 
and  women  no  less  than  the  run  of  plebeians  speak  of  it  with 
utter  aversion.  Since  the  reign  of  Claudius  there  has  existed 
a  sect  of  degraded  creatures,  at  first  Jews1  and  Levantines, 
but  later  comprising  also  Greeks  and  Italians,  known  as 

Excluding  the  vulgar  tattle  of  the  mob,  as  good  an  author- 
ity as  Tacitus  writes  thus :  "  Christus  from  whom  the  name 
of  the  sect  is  derived  was  put  to  death  in  the  reign  of  Tiberius, 
by  the  procurator  Pontius  Pilatus.  The  deadly  superstition 
having  been  checked  for  a  while,  began  to  break  out  again 
not  only  throughout  Judea,  where  this  mischief  first  arose  but 
also  at  Rome,  where  from  all  sides  all  things  scandalous  and 
shameful  meet  and  become  fashionable/' 2 

By  Nero's  time  the  Christians  were  in  such  disfavor  with 
the  populace,  being  "  misanthropes  "  and  "  enemies  of  the 
human  race,"  as  well  as  blasphemers  of  the  gods,  that  the 
evil  Emperor  tried  to  make  them  scapegoats  for  the  burning 

1  From  the  age  of  Augustus  to  that  of  Nero  Judaism  had  a  consider- 
able popularity  in  Rome.  Its  austere  monotheism  coupled  with  the 
mysterious  Mosaic  law  and  ceremonies  made  a  considerable  appeal  to 
public  opinion,  and  many  fashionable  persons  —  including  apparently 
Nero's  Empress,  the  notorious  Poppcea  Sabina  —  gave  "Jewish  doc- 
trines" a  superficial  patronage.  It  was  also  somewhat  the  fad  to  treat 
the  Hebrew  Sabbath  as  a  kind  of  "holy  day."  All  this  favor  collapsed 
after  the  destruction  of  Jerusalem  by  Titus.  The  Jews  became  a  scat- 
tered and  persecuted  sect,  without  influence.  As  for  Christianity,  after 
70  A.D.  it  lost  nearly  all  its  Jewish  element  and  became  pretty  strictly  a 
Gentile  religion. 

1  Tacitus  undoubtedly  obtained  his  statement  about  Christ  and  Pilate 
from  the  official  government  reports  in  the  Roman  Record  Office.  There 
is  no  reason  to  suppose  that  he,  any  more  than  his  friend  Pliny,  investi- 
gated Christian  sources. 

450  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

of  Rome  —  although  the  pretense  was  too  thin.  People 
said  the  Christians  were  wicked  enough,  but  that  they  were 
not  guilty  at  least  of  that ! 

381.  The  Persecution  of  Christians :  Their  "  Insane  Ob- 
stinacy. "  —  Nowhere,  in  those  respectable  quarters  in  which 
our  visit  has  moved,  can  we  get  any  detailed  information  as 
to  what  these  Christians  really  do  and  believe.  Very  few 
important  persons  have  so  far  adhered  to  them,  although 
there  is  a  story  that  Flavius  Clemens,  a  consul  and  a  kins- 
man of  Domitian  (who  put  him  to  death  along  with  so  many 
other  nobles),  was  actually  caught  by  their  supposedly  crazy 

The  sect  has  been  declared  unlawful  ever  since  Nero's  day, 
and  from  time  to  time  its  members  have  been  arrested  and 
their  conventicles  (usually  held  in  half-concealed  burial 
places  or  in  sand  pits  in  the  suburbs)  have  been  broken  up. 
The  magistrates,  however,  are  slack ;  the  vigiles  are  busy 
chasing  down  ordinary  thieves  and  murderers ;  and  the 
Christians  most  of  the  time  are  left  alone.  Hadrian,  in  fact, 
with  his  general  tolerance,  is  said  somewhat  to  have  discour- 
aged active  persecution.  The  Christians,  nevertheless,  are 
still  under  the  ban  of  the  law ;  and  being  mostly  slaves,  freed- 
men,  and  resident  foreigners,  get  very  short  shrift  if  actually 
brought  before  the  Prefect. 

It  is  extremely  easy  to  convict  them :  there  is  no  need 
of  elaborate  testimony,  you  merely  summon  the  defendants 
to  burn  incense  to  the  image  of  the  Genius  of  the  Emperor 
and  to  curse  the  name  of  Christus.  No  Christian  will  ever 
do  this.  The  trials  therefore  are  usually  very  brief,  and  soon 
after  they  occur  the  crowd  at  the  Flavian  is  ordinarily  grati- 
fied by  the  sight  of  one  of  the  Christians'  "  overseers  "  (bish- 
ops) or  "  assistants "  (deacons)  instead  of  an  ordinary 
bandit,  awaiting  the  spring  of  the  lion. 

These  sectaries  are  said  to  be  very  bold,  professing  not  to 

Foreign  Cults  451 

fear  death  which  will  only  give  them  a  surer  and  a  better 
immortality  than  that  secured  by  the  Taurobolium.  Beyond 
a  doubt  (any  cultivated  man  will  tell  us)  such  defiant  persons 
ought  to  be  executed,  if  merely  for  their  "  insane  obstinacy," 
although  the  edicts  are  only  enforced  spasmodically  and  the 
Christians  are  often  allowed  several  years  of  peace.1 

382.  Current  Charges  against  the  Christians.  —  If  popular 
gossip,  however,  means  anything,  these  people  should  deserve 
the  worst  possible  fate.  At  their  nocturnal  gatherings,  where 
men  and  women  assemble,  it  is  alleged,  for  a  wild  orgy,  the 
central  rite  is  said  to  consist  of  killing  a  babe  and  drinking 
its  blood,  while  celebrants  pledge  themselves  to  commit 
every  kind  of  wickedness.  Finally  they  tie  a  dog  to  the 
lamp  standards  and  incite  the  brute  to  upset  the  lights ;  then 
in  the  ensuing  darkness  follow  deeds  of  violence  indescribable. 

It  is  also  rumored  that  their  Christus  (who,  of  course,  died 
the  basest  of  possible  deaths  on  the  cross)  actually  h«,d  the 

1  The  following  are  some  only  of  the  reasons  why  the  Eoman  govern- 
ment insisted  on  persecuting  the  Christians,  despite  its  usual  policy  of 
religious  tolerance : 

1 .  The  Christians  persistently  refused  to  sacrifice  to  the  deified  Em- 
perors and  to  the  Genius  of  the  reigning  Emperor,  an  act  practically 
amounting  in  common  opinion  to  a  denial  of  loyalty  to  the  government, 
or  at  least  capable  of  that  construction. 

2.  The  Christians  demanded  the  repudiation  of  the  old  gods,  includ- 
ing, of  course,  the  offi.  cial  gods  of  Rome ;  they  were  not  content  with  sim- 
ply worshiping  "Christus"  along  with,  Jupiter,  Apollo,  etc.  as  were  for 
example  the  devotees  of  Isis. 

3.  The  Christians  maintained  a  tight  interior  organization,  separate 
socially  from  the  pagans,  under  the  control  of  its  bishops,  presbyters,  and 
deacons,  and  so  far  as  possible  judging  the  disputes  of  its  members.     This 
seemed  meddling  with  political  matters,  a  ticklish  business  with  any 

4.  The  private  meetings  of  the  Christians,  and  the  misconstructions 
laid  upon  then-  ceremonies,  gave  rise  to  the  vilest  possible  stories. 

5.  The  great  proportion  of  slaves  and  of  the  lowest  grade  of  plebeians 
in  the  early  Church  seemed  to  justify  the  belief  that  here  was  a  subver- 
sive, degraded,  and  illicit  movement. 

452  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

head  of  an  ass.  You  can  see  crude  wall  drawings  deriding 
his  votaries,  as  for  example,  one  showing  a  youth  kneeling 
before  an  ass-headed  figure  on  a  cross,  with  the  scribbled 
legend,  "  Alexander  is  adoring  his  god."  l 

How  far  are  these  gross  charges  true  ?  Such  aristocrats  as 
Calvus  merely  shrug  their  shoulders ;  they  are  not  interested. 
However,  about  112  A.D.  Pliny  the  Younger,  while  governor 
of  Bithynia,  being  compelled  to  enforce  the  Anti-Christian 
laws,  seized  two  Christian  women  known  as  "  deaconesses  " 
and  put  them  to  torture  in  order  to  find  out  what  really  hap- 
pened at  their  gatherings.  He  reported  that  he  had  dis- 
covered that  nothing  criminal  went  on  but  only  "  a  perverse 
and  excessive  superstition."  Probably,  senatorial  circles 
will  assure  us,  there  is  not  much  to  be  dreaded  from  such  a 
movement  which  cannot  possibly  appeal  to  educated  men 
well  grounded  in  philosophy.  Of  course,  Mithraism  is  very 
much  more  respectable,  and  according  to  all  fashionable 
judgment  has  a  far  greater  future  before  it ! 

1  An  actual  wall-picture.  For  the  charges  here  given  against  Christian 
assemblies  and  for  many  gross  details,  see  Minucius  Felix  ("Octavius" 
VIII,  9.),  who  quotes  the  stories  in  order  to  refute  them. 

It  seems  needless  in  a  book  concerned  strictly  with  pagan  Rome,  to 
discuss  the  actual  tenets  and  liturgies  of  the  Early  Christians.  The  only 
point  to  be  understood  here  is  the  vile  character  of  the  charges  brought 
against  them  by  the  ignorant  heathen. 


383.  Appreciation  of  Country  Life  by  the  Romans.  —  No 
study  of  Rome  can  be  complete  without  recognition  of  one 
cardinal  fact  —  the  intense  desire  of  all  Romans  to  get  away 
from  their  turbulent  city  for  a  large  part  of  the  year.     The 
wealthier  the  citizen  the  longer  is  likely  to  be  his  absence, 
although  no  doubt  many  a  senator  or  eques  growing  weary  of 
his  luxurious  retreat  begins  to  sigh  again  for  the  Curia  or  the 
counting  room  long  ere  the  formal  "  season  "  has  ended. 

During  the  parching  summer  months  the  city  is  really 
deserted  by  a  great  part  of  its  inhabitants.  Only  the  most 
needful  business  goes  on;  the  public  games  are  attended 
merely  by  the  humblest  type  of  plebeians ;  the  rhetoric 
schools  cease  their  floods  of  oratory ;  the  great  baths  really 
seem  empty;  and  the  Forum  crowd  becomes  thinned  and 
spiritless.  Every  person  blessed  with  a  moderate  income  and 
leisure  has  sought  the  seashore  or  the  mountains. 

384.  Praises  of  the  Country  Towns  and  Villas.  —  Never 
in  after  ages  will  the  blessings  of  country  as  against  city  life 
be  better  appreciated  than  under  the  Roman  Empire.     The 
congestion,  the  noise,  the  hurly-burly  of  the  world  metropolis 
probably  exceeds  that  of  any  future  competitor. 

The  poets  all  sing  the  praises  of  existence  amid  rural 
charms.  Martial  for  example  waxes  enthusiastic  over  the 
chance  to  "  get  away  "  from  the  porticoes  of  cold,  variegated 
marbles  and  from  the  need  of  running  on  morning  greetings, 
so  that  he  can  empty  his  hunting  nets  before  his  own  fire,  lift 
the  quivering  fish  from  the  line  and  draw  the  yellow  honey 



A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

from  the  "  red-stained  cask,"  while  his  plump  stewardess 
cooks  his  own  eggs  for  him.  Juvenal  extols  the  cheapness 
and  satisfaction  of  living  in  the  country  towns  where  for  the 
rent  of  a  dark  garret  in  Rome  you  can  afford  to  buy  a  small 
house  with  a  neat  little  garden  and  a  shallow  well  whence  you 
can  draw  the  water  for  your  own,  plants.  Wealthier  folk 
share  the  same  passion,  and  Pliny  the  Younger  writes  that 
he  longs  for  the  pleasures  of  his  villas  "  as  ardently  as  an 
invalid  longs  for  wine,  the  baths,  and  the  fountains." 


The  sentiment,  indeed,  is  so  common  that  no  further 
instances  need  be  cited,  save  that  of  Similis,  Trajan's  veteran 
praetorian  prefect,  who,  having  retired  under  Hadrian,  has 
just  died  after  seven  years  of  honorable  self-banishment  in  a 
quiet  country  retreat.  On  his  tombstone  he  has  ordered  to 
be  graven :  "  Here  lies  Similis,  an  old  man,  who  has  LIVED 
just  seven  years." 

385.  Comfortable  Modes  of  Travel :  Luxurious  Litters  and 
Carriages.  —  So  then  at  least  by  the  time  of  the  "  tyrannous 
reign  of  the  Dog  Star  or  the  Lion  "  (mid-summer  and  Sep- 
tember) all  the  roads  leading  from  Rome  are  covered  with  the 

A  Roman  Villa 


great  corteges,  if  indeed,  the  magnates  have  not  quitted  the 
city  much  earlier. 

This  is  no  place  to  speak  of  the  admirable  Roman  road 
system  which  spreads  as  a  vast  network  all  over  the  Empire, 
and  which  is,  of  course,  at  its  best  in  Italy.  Travel  for  the 
rich  in  Hadrian's  day  is  extremely  luxurious  if  not  corre- 
spondingly rapid.  If  you  are  in  no  hurry,  you  can  ride  in  a 
comfortable  litter  borne  by  six  or  eight  even-paced  bearers 
and  so  outfitted  that  you  can  read,  write,  sleep,  and  even  play 

ROMAN  BRIDGE  :  typical  of  thousands  which  covered  the  Empire. 

at  dice,  while  your  retinue  is  winding  its  slow  way  over  the 
Campagna,  or  up  into  the  mountains.  If  you  are  in  greater 
haste,  there  are  speedy  if  somewhat  less  steady  gigs  and  other 
open  carriages  which  energetic  people  drive  themselves, 
although  great  folk,  of  course,  demand  plenty  of  postilions 
and  "  well-girt  running  footmen."  In  any  case  the  journey 
from  Rome  is  a  matter  of  great  display  for  anybody  with 
claims  to  fortune.  Fifty  slaves  and  twenty  baggage  wagons 
are  hardly  enough  to  become  a  senator ;  and  four  times  as 
many  of  each  is  not  an  excessive  retinue. 

However,  less  distinguished  people  can  drive  about  in  their 
own  light,  open  two-wheeled  carriages  (cisia),  or  can  hire 

456  A  Day  in  Old  Rome 

them  at  the  posting  stations  just  outside  the  gates,  and  time 
would  fail  to  tell  of  all  the  kinds  of  carpenta  (two-wheeled 
covered  vehicles)  or  redoe  (four-wheeled  traveling  carriages) 
which  one  can  meet  on  the  Via  Appia  or  the  Via  Latina. 

Since  Rome  is  a  city  without  railroads  and  without  first- 
class  shipping  facilities,  necessity  has  developed  this  carriage 
service  to  a  fine  point.  Some  people  indeed  still  bestride 
mules,  like  that  of  Horace,  "  short  of  tail  and  heavy  of  gait," 
and  government  carriers  ride  horseback  —  but  the  wheeled 
vehicles  are  excellent.  It  will  be  a  long  time  before  they  can 
be  surpassed  in  comfort.1 

386.  Multiplication  of  Villas:  Seashore  Estates  at 
Baiae,  etc.  —  Distant  journeys  we  cannot  consider,  nor  the 
service  of  imperial  and  private  messengers  to  the  provinces. 
Our  concern  is  with  the  fact  that  over  the  whole  of  west- 
central  Italy,  well  up  into  the  Apennines,  and  all  along  the 
Etruscan,  Latin,  and  Campanian  coasts  one  luxurious  estate 
follows  upon  another. 

Many  of  these  vast  establishments  indeed  combine  profit 
with  pleasure.  Landed  property  is  the  most  genteel  form  of 
wealth  and  close  beside  the  sumptuous  villa  urbana  which 
imitates  the  glories  of  the  city  mansion,  there  often  spreads 
the  humbler  and  more  utilitarian  villa  rustica  which  houses 
the  great  gangs  of  slaves  or  hireling  laborers  who  keep  the 
broad  acres  under  cultivation. 

One  cannot  turn  aside  to  examine  Italian  agriculture,  but 
the  residence  villas  are  so  essential  to  every  Roman  of  breed- 
ing and  property  that  to  ignore  them  is  impossible.  Persons 
of  means  seem  always  purchasing  more  villa  property,  indeed 
there  are  not  a  few  magnates  who  can  take  a  long  journey  up 

1  Probably  the  Roman  carriages  were  more  convenient  than  anything 
known  later  in  Europe  prior  to  1800  ;  and  travel  facilities  in  general  were 
as  good,  the  inns  possibly  averaging  worse  but  the  roads  decidedly  better, 
than  at  the  dawn  of  the  Nineteenth  Century. 

A  Roman  Villa  457 

and  down  Italy,  spending  each  night  upon  one  of  their  own 
estates.  If  Publius  Calvus  contents  himself  with  only  four 
country  residences,  he  shows  that  he  is  poorer  and  less 
pretentious  than  many  fellow  senators  of  praetorian  rank. 

Inevitably  certain  places  are  preferred  beyond  others. 
Upon  the  Bay  of  Naples  people  of  leisure,  who  do  not 
mind  a  hundred  and  fifty  mile  journey  from  Rome,  find  a 
famous  and  delightful  center  at  Baise;  and  indeed  in  the 
entire  region  of  this  bay,  recovering  now  from  the  ravages 
of  the  outbreak  of  Mt.  Vesuvius.  Outward  along  the  more 
southerly  Bay  of  Psestum  [Bay  of  Salerno]  the  shore  is  lined 
with  one  lofty  marble-crowned  villa  after  another,  often 
erected  upon  elaborate  jetties  thrusting  far  out  into  the 
sapphire  sea. 

There  is,  however,  a  whole  series  of  handsome  seaboard 
villas  all  the  way  southward  from  Ostia  —  and  Antium,  Cir- 
cei,  Tarracina  (where  the  Via  Appia  strikes  the  coastline), 
and  Formise  are  only  a  few  of  those  luxurious  colonies  to 
which  the  wealth  and  fashion  of  Rome  scatter  during  several 
months  of  the  year.  Many  is  the  senator,  eques,  or  great 
freedman  who  can  boast  also  of  his  magnificent  yacht,  painted 
in  gay  colors,  with  purple  sails,  purple  awnings  on  the  poop, 
with  rigging  entwined  on  gala  days  with  leaves  and  flowers, 
and  with  liveried  rowers  who  are  trained  to  swing  togethe